Gray-New Gloucester Little League is proposing building three new ballfields, a snack shack, observation deck, playground and new parking lot on the Chandler land off Intervale Road. Contributed / Gray-New Gloucester Little League

The Royal River Conservation Trust and the local Little League’s fundraising efforts are well underway for an ambitious conservation project and ballfield revamp in New Gloucester’s Lower Village, but not all residents are happy with the plan.

The Yarmouth-based nonprofit land trust and Gray-New Gloucester Little League partnered in 2019 to purchase the 180-acre parcel of land off Intervale Road from Don and Lynne Chandler, and they are working to raise $1.5 million by the end of this year.

Royal River Conservation Trust Executive Director Alan Stearns expects the acquisition of the 180-acre parcel of land in New Gloucester’s Intervale area, seen above from the top of Gloucester Hill Road, to be finalized in the coming months. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly

Residents who have taken umbrage with the project say the proposed ballfield complex is too big for its surroundings and that it’s at odds with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan update that will go to New Gloucester voters this June.

“(It’s) a quantum leap in terms of human presence and traffic and trash and noise and lights,” resident Charles Gauvin told the Lakes Region Weekly last week.

RRCT Executive Director Alan Stearns said this week that he expects the land acquisition to be finalized in the coming months.

The Little League will own approximately 10 acres and has proposed building three ballfields, a snack shack, observation deck and playground and a new parking lot. LED stadium lights, digital scoreboards and a public address system are among the “desired list of amenities.”

President Nate Stone emphasized that the plans are preliminary.

“That’s not the kind of thing where it’s make or break for our project,” he said. “It’s something we’re definitely flexible on, and I can see arguments both ways.”

The Little League currently has one field at the proposed Intervale Road site. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly

The remaining 170 acres will be owned and preserved in perpetuity by the Conservation Trust, adding to its existing 128-acre Intervale Preserve. There will be parking and trailhead access through the Little League land.

“I support maintaining a single little league field at the current location for the children of our town,” Cathy Gregory said at the April 7 Selectboard meeting. “I do not support a three-field regional complex.”

Carl Wilcox said he is a “strong supporter of the trail network,” but “can’t support the big, giant design” of the ballfields.

A number of other residents raised concerns that the sound and lights from the ballfields would reverberate throughout the bowl-like Intervale.

Stearns, in a letter to the Selectboard last week, said the project is “not a traditional land trust project.”

“RRCT took risks by tackling a large project in the heart of an historic village with traffic safety issues, high levels of recreational expectations, overlap with village parking and village design issues and more,” Stearns said in a memo to the Selectboard last week.

“We are very encouraged by the broad support of so many, and confident in our ability to address both opportunities and challenges ahead,” Stearns said.

Stone said that owning the Chandler land would be a great benefit for the Little League considering that various landowners and organizations lend the Little League use of their fields on “handshake deals that came together years ago.”

Little League will budget thousands of dollars some years for repairs to those loaned field, “even though we have no guarantee we’ll be able to use it the next year,” he said.

The Conservation Trust and the Little League are hosting a series of field tours and listening sessions. The next session is April 22 at 5:30 p.m. at Intervale field. For more information, visit rrct.org/events-programs and intervale-fields.gnglittleleague.org.

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