By Maggie Gill-Austern , Staff Writer
AUGUSTA – The Mahoosuc Land Trust is one giant step closer to owning Whitecap Mountain after Land for Maine’s Future board members voted unanimously to go forward with funding the project.
More money still needs to be raised to purchase the 761-acre parcel, which is a popular hiking, picnicking, and blueberry picking spot. But with a Tuesday vote by the Land for Maine’s Future board to continue the process of contributing $243,000 toward the nearly $700,000 cost of the buying the land, the project is close to becoming a reality.
The Land for Maine’s Future program aims at helping local agencies protect exceptionally beautiful or beloved areas from being privatized, so that everyone can continue to use it, according to a state Web site. It’s been enthusiastically backed by voters for years, and a 2005 bond issue provided the program with funding for 31 new projects, Director Tim Glidden said Tuesday.
After Tuesday’s vote, Glidden said, more work needs to be done on the part of staff before the Whitecap proponents are home-free.
“I’d be optimistic about all of these projects closing successfully,” he said. “But there are still some t’s to cross and i’s to dot.”>/p>
Staff members will do the types of things people do before buying a house, Glidden said. “They’ll make sure there’s a good, clear title, with no liens, no mortgages,” he said.
“We’re really eager to get going,” said Bob Iles, chairman of the Mahoosuc Land Trust’s Whitecap Mountain project, on Thursday. “And anybody that wants to give us a hand, we’re glad to hear from them,” he added.
The trust needs to raise more than $200,000, Iles said. “The next step for us is to get into a fundraising campaign to raise our share of the funding for this,” he said.
The Land for Maine’s Future board also voted Tuesday to proceed with projects in the Rangeley area and in Lewiston.
It unanimously gave the go-ahead to proceed with plans to protect 125 acres around Cupsuptic Lake, in Adamstown Township, and have allocated $500,000 to that project, Glidden said.
“We’re hoping for a mid-December closing,” Nancy Perlson, the executive director of Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, which is heading up the project, said Thursday. “We’ll be borrowing quite a bit of money, and continuing our fundraising,” she said. “We’ve (already) had some very generous donors.”>/p>
The $1,275,000 price tag will provide the region with the only legal and readily accessible swimming access to Cupsuptic Lake, she said. “Most of the other frontage, you have to hike or boat to get to it,” she said. “So this is just a gem, really.”>/p>
The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust still has another $350,000 to go before reaching its fundraising goal, she said.
The LMF board also voted unanimously to go forward with an Androscoggin Land Trust plan to create Androscoggin River Park, a 14.3-acre riverfront parcel slated to become a nonmotorized trail network and boat launch. Board members allocated $74,600 to that project.