The town-owned cabin on Jones Pond needs an overhaul. Some residents and town officials hope a popular reality TV program can help. Letitia Baldwin/Ellsworth American

GOULDSBORO — You can’t beat the location. Just a stone’s throw from a sparsely inhabited pond. Easy access for fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking and bird-watching.

That’s the town-owned cabin overlooking Jones Pond. The cedar-shingled cottage’s interior needs a complete renovation, and a local resident is pitching the estimated $80,000 project as a job for the “Maine Cabin Masters” program on the DIY Network. The aim is to cut the quoted cost.

Birch Harbor resident and semi-retired journalist Jackie Weaver from time to time watches the popular reality television show. The Maine town of Manchester’s Morrill family clan, including builder Chase Morrill and his sister Ashley and her husband, Ryan, and their friends, rehab and transform historic and abandoned cabins and cottages in Maine. In their seventh season, the Morrills now get thousands of applications annually.

In a citizen capacity, Weaver also regularly attends the Gouldsboro Select Board’s meetings and recently heard discussions about the vacated Jones Pond cabin’s needing to be overhauled and the price tag. She also attended the 2019 Town Meeting, where a majority of voters rejected the recommended demolition of the year-round dwelling that was in poor condition.

“I knew they [selectmen] were concerned about money,” Weaver said this week. “I also knew from the [2019] Town Meeting that townspeople loved having a caretaker there.”

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At the Dec. 22 selectmen’s meeting, Gouldsboro Infrastructure Superintendent Jim Mclean, in person, and Weaver, via Zoom, presented the idea to approach “Maine Cabin Masters” about the project.

Gouldsboro’s Jones Pond Reserve Fund currently stands at $44,835. A total of $40,000 previously was spent to refurbish the cabin’s exterior this past year. The remaining interior work is estimated at $80,000 according to interim Town Manager Eve Wilkinson.

“They do a lot for not much money,” noted Select Board Chairman Dana Rice, who also watches “Maine Cabin Masters.” He and the other selectmen unanimously endorsed Weaver’s idea and gave her the go-ahead to submit the Jones Pond cabin as a potential job for the Morrills.

To make the presentation, Weaver did some preliminary research and contacted “Maine Cabin Masters” builder Chase Morrill. He told her his clients can reap as much as 30% in savings. She also consulted former Sullivan Town Manager Rob Eaton. He and his wife, Candy Eaton, who were among the Morrills’ earliest “Maine Cabin Masters” clients, told her they had significant savings and valuable guidance in their rustic cabin’s refurbishment.

Located on the northeast shore, the Jones Pond cabin already stood on the 8.5-acre parcel when it was purchased for the town by the late summer resident Anne “Co” (Schieffelin) Bradley, whose own family as well as her husband’s had vacationed for generations in West Gouldsboro. Some of their descendants have lived year-round in the area for decades.

In giving the property to the town on Nov. 3, 1981, Bradley’s intent was to create “a freshwater swimming and boating facility for area residents” on the 1,100-foot shoreline overlooking Jones Pond. Back then, the existing camp there was envisioned as housing for a seasonal recreational director who would offer swimming, sailing and water safety classes in the summer, according to Ellsworth American news stories dating back to 1981.

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Prior to the property’s acquisition, the town’s Recreation Committee Chairman Dick Fisher, Mary Lou Weaver and others spent two years scouting properties before identifying the current Jones Pond parcel as the most suitable and easily accessed site for a public recreation area.

In designing the area, the former Maine Conservation & Development Department, Federal Soil Conservation Service and a University of Maine recreational planner provided input on the facility that was declared the “Outstanding Completed Measure” by the Down East Resource, Conservation and District. The property once featured a playground that had to be razed in recent years, but plans are afoot to build a new one.

In 1983, after Bradley’s death, Gouldsboro’s Jones Pond facility was formally dedicated on a blustery, late autumn day. A plaque, inset in a boulder, was unveiled in memory of the donor and her family. The inscription read, “In memory of Dr. William Jay Schieffelin, William Jay Schieffelin Jr. and William Jay Schieffelin III, granddaughter, daughter, sister.”

Whether the Jones Pond cabin is selected as a “Maine Cabin Masters” project is a long shot, but the Select Board’s commitment to revitalize and better maintain the dwelling and recreation area remains firm and a new occupant/caretaker eventually will be sought, Wilkinson said.

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