Woodward Point (Contributed photo)

BRUNSWICK — The town council last week unanimously backed a request for $150,000 to help the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust complete the funding for conservation of Woodward Point on the New Meadows River.

Councilor David Watson said his first question when evaluating an agenda item is, “Is this good for Brunswick?” The conservation was decidedly “good for Brunswick,” he said.

Councilor Steve Walker recused himself from the vote at Thursday night’s meeting due to a conflict of interest with his position as a project manager at Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a move which received a “thank you” from chair John Perreault and a quick round of applause from other councilors.

“We’ve seen an incredible outpouring of community support for conserving Woodward Point and opening it to the public,” Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust President Angela Twitchell said in a recent press release. “Funding from the Town would provide a critical lift in our push to the finish line. The project will bring numerous benefits to Town residents and visitors, but only if we can close the funding gap by the end of March.”

In partnership with the Brunswick-Topsham trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust wants to raise $3.5 million by March 31 to purchase the land and provide for its long-term management as a public preserve.

The trusts have $260,000 left to raise. They are asking that funds from the town come from the proceeds of the sale of the town-owned property at 946 Mere Point Road, which has been designated for water access projects.

The town acquired 946 Mere Point Road in 2011 through tax foreclosure, and, after a lengthy debate, sold the land in 2017 for $350,000 in order to put the property back on the tax roll. A California couple later purchased the property for $550,000.

The sale occurred despite protests by some residents who wanted a public park at the site, in part, because of a lack of water access by the public.

The land trusts took no position on the issue surrounding the future of the property, but now want funds from the sale to benefit the Woodward Point conservation effort.

“The net proceeds of that sale were $403,000 and the town has a remaining balance of $330,000 available in that fund for water access projects,” the news release states.

Woodward Point, located near Cook’s Corner, includes more than 2 miles of shoreline on the New Meadows River and Woodward Cove, according to the trusts.

The trusts stated that conserving the land “will offer the public opportunities to walk along the water, fish, or even launch paddle-crafts and swim at favorable tides.”

“Brunswick has very little guaranteed public access to its shores for recreation, and opening Woodward Point to the public would be a huge leap forward for the Town,” Mike Lyne, chairman of the town’s recreation commission, said in the release.

Conservation would also protect shorebird feeding and roosting habitat, upland wetland habitat and access for shellfish harvesters to adjacent clam flats at Woodward Cove, according to the trusts.

If the property is acquired it will be owned and managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, in cooperation with Brunswick Topsham Land Trust.

Amenities would include a parking lot, a mowed trail, woods trails and places to get down to the water. There will not be drive-up boat launches, but a hand-carry boat launch is envisioned for the property.

The trusts note that 75 individuals have given donations toward the project. The state’s Land for Maine’s Future Program awarded a $400,000 grant toward the program; the federal government has awarded a $570,000 Coastal Wetlands Grant.

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