An uncommon act of kindness has made Boothbay Common sparkle once again. A mystery donor provided funds to revitalize the common’s turf in 2019 and gazebo in 2020. On Sept. 8, the mystery donor revealed himself during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. And the man cutting the ribbon was Southport businessman Paul Coulombe. He contacted the Landscaping Committee almost two years ago about sprucing up the common.
In January 2019, the committee gave selectmen an eight-point plan to revitalize the common’s turf. With one project already in progress, Coulombe again contacted the committee, this time about the aging gazebo. In May 2020, the committee sought town approval. Once again, the mystery donor offered to cover all expenses. Clear Stream Construction of Boothbay began the gazebo renovation a few days later and finished in early August.
Coulombe has contributed to many Boothbay region projects and causes over the years. Most recently, he contributed $1 million for the Route 27 Redevelopment Project and $1.6 million for the new Boothbay Region Ambulance Service building. Both donations received praise and skepticism from the community. Coulombe decided to remain anonymous to avoid jeopardizing the common revitalization.
“Last thing I wanted was to create more controversy,” Coulombe said. “I thought this was something everybody could agree on, but I didn’t want my name to create potential controversy. So I asked to remain anonymous.”
Coulombe was the main contributor, but not the only one to the turf project. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens provided four new trees at an estimated $6,220 cost. In January 2019, the Landscaping Committee presented details for the $43,905 turf project. Irrigation was the single largest project cost, at an estimated $22,000. As the turf project neared completion this spring, Coulombe proposed refurbishing the aging gazebo.
His initial interest the revitalization project occurred after a conversation with Boothbay Harbor Country Club Golf Superintendent Rob Wylie. Coulombe owns the country club which is near the common. Wylie proposed a turf facelift by improving the common’s drainage, fertilization and irrigation systems. “I thought it was a great idea. The common is the focal point of the community,” Coulombe said. “The community cherishes and treasures the common. I knew it would be difficult for the town to spend the kind of money needed to put the turf in the right condition. And just look at it. It looks beautiful.”
Later, Wylie and Coulombe realized the gazebo was the common’s focal point and also needed an upgrade. So Coulombe once again contacted the Landscaping Committee and offered to modernize the gazebo. In May, the committee provided selectmen with a 10-point gazebo renovation plan. The project included re-shingling the roof and resetting the steps for improved stability. A stone veneer was added. The project also replaced all white rotting gazebo trim with composite structures. Handrails were added for improved safety. All electrical outlets were outfitted with GFI (Ground Fault Circuit Interupter). A WiFi outlet was added to provide a free hot spot.
The gazebo was rebuilt with composite materials. Inside lighting with LED (light emitting diodes) was added. The surrounding grounds include low maintenance planting and mulch. Once both projects were completed, Wylie and municipal officials asked Coulombe to participate in the ceremony. “Either way, it didn’t make a difference to me. Rob (Wylie), Dan (Bryer) and the selectmen asked me to participate, and I told them I was OK with whatever they wanted to do,” Coulombe said.
The ceremony included Coulombe, Town Manager Dan Bryer, the board of selectmen and landscaping committee members.