Standish Revisits Beach Talks With Renewed Optimism
September 24, 2008 -
STANDISH -- After years of failed proposals, some are optimistic about renewed negotiations between the town of Standish and the Portland Water District for a public beach on Sebago Lake.
The town is depending on the water district to lease or sell some of its waterfront property for the beach. The most recent proposal from the Portland Water District Steering Committee is for use of the around 200-acre Cargill lot, located off Route 114 on the west shore of the lake.
“I feel very optimistic about this one, and about the willingness of the water district trustees,” said Terence Christy, chairman of the committee and a town councilor.
The Portland Water District Steering Committee will meet again on Oct. 2 to discuss the scope and size of the proposal, access points, neighbors’ concerns and cost effectiveness, according to Christy. He said committee members plan to have another proposal ready for the water district by the end of October, after receiving comments from the Portland Water District Trustees on their original proposal, submitted in May.
“I think it’s important because we have a beachfront and we have children who really should have access,” said Standish resident Elizabeth Perry. “They can’t put a toe in that lake for free.”
A Standish resident for 23 years, Perry was involved in previous beach negotiations. Currently, Standish residents can pay a small fee to use the Kiwanis Beach on Route 25, Perry said, but that beach is quite small.
The last talks between the water district and the town on a beach began in 2001 and broke down in 2006 when the two sides couldn't reach an agreement, according to Standish Town Manager Gordon Billington. The failure of those talks had to do with the water district's desire to be able to terminate the agreement at will and limit activity solely to Pine Cove Beach, Billington said.
“They’re starting fresh,” Billington said.
In May, members of the Portland Water District Steering Committee made a presentation to the Portland Water District board of trustees on their most recent proposal. The proposal was for a parcel to include Pine Cove and Sand Bar Beachs, as well as space other recreational facilities.
The map of the proposal, prepared by Sebago Technics, includes a beach, picnic area, trail network, athletic fields, campground and maintenance facility.
The proposed beach and recreation facility is outside of the 2-mile limit around the intake pipe, within which people are not allowed to enter the water. The water district serves drinking water to more than 190,000 people in 11 communities in the Greater Portland area and owns 2,500 acres of land in the Sebago Lake watershed.
However, water district trustees are concerned about too many people using Sand Bar Beach and the effect that could have on water quality, according to Michelle Clements, the public relations and information officer for the water district. She said they want to focus on the first phase of the project and suggested starting by developing the Pine Cove Beach.
While Christy said he wasn’t ruling anything out, he said committee members would like to look at developing the nearby Sand Bar Beach, one of the better beaches in the Portland area, Christy said.
Christy said it is included in both the town and water district charters to have a beach in the town, and that it has been a primary concern included in the comprehensive plan.
The water district leases the Sand Bar Beach to the Standish boating club, Clements said. If a town beach were built on the property, Clements said it was unclear whether the water district would maintain ownership of the land or pass it on to the town.
Use of the Cargill lot for a town beach was first proposed in 1996. It is one of several negotiations between the water district and the town of Standish over the years to give town residents public beach access on Sebago Lake.
“We hope to have a beach soon for the town of Standish,” Christy said.
By Julia Davis
Reporter - Lakes Region Weekly
Sept. 22, 2008
Lakes: Sebago Lake
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