The city of Westbrook has purchased 30 acres of land connected by an easement to the city forest, creating a 117-acre parcel for outdoor recreation.

The city plans to improve trails, put up signs and create a mobile app to help people on foot, mountain bikes or snowmobiles navigate the forested land, which is between the Westbrook Community Center and Sunset Ridge Golf Links.

The Westbrook Environmental Improvement Corp. purchased the land for $150,000 with money collected from tax-increment financing.

The Westbrook Recreation and Conservation Commission has dedicated $30,000, collected from assessments paid by developers, to improve the trail system.

Assistant City Administrator William Baker had worked with the landowner for use of the property for the Tough Mudder obstacle course events hosted by the city.

When he approached the Caron family with the idea to buy the land, the timing was right.

Mike Caron said his parents, who were living across the street, were in their 80s and ready to move out of their home. Around the same time, his sister, who lived in Westbrook, died unexpectedly. Selling the land to the city – for much less than they could have to a developer – was a way to honor his sister and continue his family’s legacy in Westbrook, where they’ve had ties for more than 100 years.

“At the end of the day, it was the right thing to do,” Caron said.

The family has retained a parcel between the 30 acres and the city forest, but the city acquired easements in order to connect the two pieces of land.

That way people using the trail system can get a cup of coffee at the community center in the morning, then make their way to Sunset Ridge, where they can have lunch before turning around and coming back, said Peter Burke, a member of the Westbrook Recreation and Conservation Commission.

He said the initial improvement plans call for up to 20 miles of trails.

“That’s just to begin,” he said. “Who knows were we go from there?”

The city announced the details of the acquisition at a press event Tuesday morning at the community center, then lead a group out to the trails.

The first project planned is to clean up and enhance a trailhead in back of the Westbrook Community Center on Bridge Street, where people can access the city forest.

Students from Westbrook Regional Vocational Center plan to build a new kiosk using materials donated by Hillside Lumber of Westbrook.

Access to the new 30-acre parcel will be from Sunset Ridge, which will have parking for trail users.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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