2017-08-25 / Front Page

Efforts underway for fort’s cliff walk

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer


The Cape Elizabeth Town Council has approved the 2017 phase of the Cliff Walk improvement efforts at Fort Williams. The work includes removing invasive plants, creating a new trail and improving “destination areas” where visitors can stop and enjoy the scenery. (Michael Kelley photo) The Cape Elizabeth Town Council has approved the 2017 phase of the Cliff Walk improvement efforts at Fort Williams. The work includes removing invasive plants, creating a new trail and improving “destination areas” where visitors can stop and enjoy the scenery. (Michael Kelley photo) CAPE ELIZABETH – The town council last week signed off on two improvement efforts for Fort Williams: The next phase of the Fort Williams Park Foundation’s Cliff Walk Landscape, part of the overall Arboretum Project, and a workshop next month with the Fort Williams Park Committee to deal with ongoing operational and long-range planning issues at the park.

The goal of the Arboretum Project, foundation President Lynn Shaffer told councilors on Monday, Aug. 14 is to “improve and sustain landscapes throughout the park” by reversing damage done by invasive plants, restoring native plants and wildlife habitats, improving open space, amenities and access for visitors and fostering educational resources and community participation.

This 2017 phase of the landscape project, which was drafted in 2015 by landscape architect Regina Leonard, calls for improving several “destination areas” that are used informally for picnics and scenic overlooks and connecting them with a new trail, as well as installing informational signs and ridding the area of invasive species.

Shaffer said the cash is in hand already to complete work on the trail, signs and destination work and to complete invasive plant control, seeding and planting work into 2018. Work will not start for future work, she said “until we have the money raised to pay for it.”

Councilor Katharine Ray said she was comfortable giving the foundation the approval it needed to use $56,969 of the foundation’s $67,022 cash balance to complete this year’s trail, signs and invasive species work and look at future plans at a later date.

“I am not comfortable approving a plan when we are not sure where the money is coming from,” she said of her reluctance of approving the plan beyond this year.

Councilor Jessica Sullivan concurred.

“I’d be happy to support the 2017 plan as it is funded. There have been concerns in the past of any project we take on is fully funded, so I’d be happy to approve the 2017 plan and revisit next year,” she said.

The workshop with the Fort Williams Park Committee is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18.

“One of our council goals is to have a further and thorough discussion about some of the long-range issues confronting Fort Williams,” Council Chairman Jamie Garvin said. “This is intended to be the first step in that process.”

At the July 10 council meeting, Garvin said the discussion of how to solve some of the growth and management issues will also include residents, abutters and staff, who will help to develop strategies about how to “best protect the resource and asset in the many years to come.”

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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