Oak Point preservation area approved by Boothbay Harbor Planning Board

Public access and year-round recreational activities to be featured
Posted:  Sunday, December 18, 2016 - 7:30am

With the approval of the Boothbay Harbor Planning Board and the town of Boothbay Harbor, the Boothbay Region Land Trust (BRLT) is moving forward with the purchase and preservation of a 32-acre parcel referred to as Oak Point. The BRLT plans to use the property for public access and year-round recreation.

BRLT board members, friends and Oak Point abutters and neighbors filled the Boothbay Harbor Town Hall meeting room to cheer on BRLT Executive Director Nick Ullo and Board of Directors Vice President Hal Moorefield as they made their presentation to the town.

Maps and aerial photographs show three structures exist on the site, a 1790s saltwater farmhouse, a cottage in the northwest corner, and a garage. The property has 2,000 feet of waterfront, as well as a freshwater pond. Moorefield, vice president of BRLT’s board of directors, said there is an indication that the farm existed as early as the 1660s, and archaeological evidence of ancient Indian shell midden has been discovered along part of the shore. 

“Our proposal is to preserve this property in its entirety just as it sits today. The one thing we want to do for traffic safety is to have a new access road built for the public, rather than using Oak Point Road,” Moorefield said. BRLT plans to use the farmhouse and cottage as historical, nature, and welcome centers.

Moorefield expressed gratitude for the generosity of the property abutters. “We reached out to all of them. We gave tours to about half, and showed them our plans. We haven’t heard a specific objection from any of them,” he said. He also acknowledged the present owners of the property, Pat and Chris Jackson, for their foresight regarding the project. “It was their vision to preserve the property as it is,” he said.

Barclay Shepard, one of the abutters present, said, “We’ve known a number of the former owners of this property, and I know that our family, who have known these folks, are immensely pleased that the land trust is interested in acquiring this property. We’d love to see them there. We love this property.”

“Will you have staff year round?” asked Planning Board member Chris Swanson.

“Yes, similar to what a park ranger’s role would be. Someone will be on the property during open hours to supervise recreational activities, run the nature and welcome centers, and answer questions from the public,” Moorefield said. When asked, Moorefield assured board members that the septic system can handle dozens of people per day.  

Board member Margaret Perritt, who has a background in historical preservation and archeology, was concerned about how constructing a new road might affect any further discovery of Indian artifacts.

“I would like to make a plea,” she said. “I hope you do shovel testing when you put the road in. I suspect the Indians didn’t confine their activities to the shoreline. You could be right on top of something and not know it.” She offered to help BRLT determine if anything is there when the time comes to construct the road.

Because the entrance to the planned access road has not been determined, Planning Board Chairman Thomas Churchill said, “I’d like to add a condition that the land trust work with the town police and public works departments to assure them that there is a required 300 feet of sight distance in each direction, and to work with them on any other concerns.” The condition was seconded.

A vote to accept the application passed, without the vote of board member William Hamblen. He recused himself, as he is one of the abutters.  

The land trust hopes to complete the sale by March 2017.