The Scarborough Town Council approved spending $200,000 from a reserve fund to help acquire a 16-acre parcel to be conserved. Courtesy photo/Dan Kehlenbach

SCARBOROUGH — On Oct. 20, the Scarborough Town Council unanimously approved spending $200,00 from a voter-approved land acquisition reserve to purchase a 16-acre parcel for land conservation.

The funds will be used by the Scarborough Land Trust to purchase the so-called Libby Property, located off of Route 114 and containing 1,200 feet of the Nonesuch River.

“I firmly support this,” said Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina. “I believe as the town grows we need to be very focused on areas that we wish to preserve, and I think that this makes a lot of sense and I hope that we continue to look at other parcels to preserve also.”

The purchase price for the property is $420,000.

In August, the Scarborough Land Trust received a $10,000 grant from Bass Pro Shops-Cabela’s in Scarborough to help with the acquisition of a 16.5-acre parcel abutting the Warren Woods Preserve. On Oct. 20, the Scarborough Town Council approved using $200,000 from the town’s land acquisition reserve for the purchase. From left are Andrew Mackie, executive director, Scarborough Land Trust; Rick Shinay, president of the Scarborough Land Trust Board of Directors; Rich Gilbert, Cabela’s store manager; and Carroll Goodwin, Cabela’s hunting manager.  Contributed / Scarborough Land Trust

To raise the rest of the money, said Andrew J. Mackie, executive director of the Scarborough Land Trust, “we have a proposal into the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program (MNRCP) and should hear about this in mid-November. We set a $50,000 goal to raise from the community in July, we currently have raised $30,000, including $10,000 from Bass Pro-Cabela’s (with a location in Scarborough.) If we get the MNRCP program and finish off the $20,000 for this parcel and our acquisition program, we will have the funding to close on the property.”

The $200,000 approved by the council on Oct. 20 comes from the town’s land acquisition reserve fund, which voters approved in three previous referendums, dating back to 2001 and most recently in 2019 for $2.5 million, said Suzanne Foley-Ferguson, chair of the Scarborough Parks and Conservation Land Board, at the Oct. 6 Town Council meeting.

The land acquisition reserve is used “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.”

While the purchase price of Libby Property is $420,000 the appraised rate is $620,000.

The owners are selling at significantly less than the property is worth , Foley-Ferguson said, because they 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.”

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.

In addition, Mackie said, “this parcel has 1,400 linear feet of the Nonesuch River. The River is important for the future of Scarborough Marsh. In addition, the parcel has additional wetlands and forests that provide significant wildlife habitat. The parcel borders our Warren Woods Preserve that will provide additional trail construction for the public. Finally, the parcel will provide additional public access for fishing and hunting.”

“The Scarborough Land Trust is thrilled to have a great relationship with the Town of Scarborough to provide needed open space for the residents and visitors of Scarborough,” he said. We are grateful to the Town Council for their strong and continued support for the work of the Scarborough Land Trust and the need to balance development with open space protection.

“I think there are ton of groups and boards out there that aren’t the council and are doing a ton of work and frankly produce better work that we do half the time,” Councilor Paul Johnson said. “So I fully support that (purchase). … I think it’s a steal at $200,00.”

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