SCARBOROUGH — Town councilors said they were in favor of using $200,000 in funds from a voter-approved reserve to help the Scarborough Land Trust purchase the Libby Property, a 16-acre parcel of land, for the purpose of conservation.

The land trust has been fundraising $50,000 for the land, located off of Route 114 and containing 1,200 feet of the Nonesuch River, said Suzanne Foley-Ferguson, chair of the Scarborough Parks and Conservation Land Board, on the Oct. 6 Town Council meeting.

In addition, the land trust is requesting $200,000 from the town’s land acquisition reserve fund, approved by voters in three previous referendums, dating back to 2001 and most recently in 2019 for $2.5 million, Foley-Ferguson said.

“What it means is that when a project comes to the town of Scarborough, the town evaluates whether or not they’d like to help with the purchase,” she said. “Many of the projects, in fact, probably 90 percent of them were from the Scarborough Land Trust. The land trust is a nonprofit and relies on private funding whereas these funds are a reserve fund.”

The Libby Property is being sold at a rate less than market value, Foley-Ferguson said. The owners are invested in conserving and preserving natural land.

“Conserving land is a long-term investment in the community,” she said. “The actual benefits of preserving land far exceeds the initial cost and although we incur some debt service, it’s not just the aesthetics and the wildlife that we’re protecting. We’re also protecting the value.”

In August, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops, with a location in Scarborough, donated $10,000 to the land trust for the purpose of purchasing the property. The purchase of the land will expand and further protect the Warren Woods Preserve, a Scarborough Land Trust property that spans 156 acres, said the organization.

Town Councilors said they supported the proposed use of reserve funds. Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina encouraged other members to support the allocation at future meetings.

“I’m happy to see that we’re continuing to invest in land that’s important to the town and to the future of the town,” she said.

The project is fully in line with what the acquisition fund is set up to do, said Councilor John Cloutier.

Another benefit is that the project matches up with the town’s comprehensive plan, said Councilor Jonathan Anderson.

“We have a specific vision on preserving town natural resources and I think this is just an excellent example of how we can do that,” he said.

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