A Westport Island resident who is also the president of the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust is circulating a petition asking the town’s taxpayers to contribute $50,000 toward the land trust’s campaign to purchase a 144-acre preserve.
The Westport Island Board of Selectmen discussed the petition effort Monday, April 11. Dennis Dunbar is circulating the petition, which asks for $50,000, 10 percent of the funds needed to purchase the land on Squam Creek.
Dunbar reported to the selectmen last month that the land trust had entered into a purchase-and-sale agreement for the parcel. According to Dunbar, the cost of the project is $510,000, with $150,000 yet to be raised.
The petition requests the placement of an article on the warrant for the upcoming annual town meeting.
The article would read: “Shall the Town of Westport Island authorize and pledge $50,000, to be matched by private donations, for funds to be used in support of the acquisition, together with Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, of approximately 144 acres on the west side of Squam Creek, for a public preserve for recreation, including hiking, hunting, fishing, and for protection of natural resources, habitat, and valuable wetlands (Tax Map 4-55 and 4-61)?”
According to Westport Island Town Clerk Gaye Wagner, the petition, as of Tuesday, April 12, had not been turned into her office. The petition must be signed by at least 44 registered voters and turned into the town clerk for verification of signatures before going on the warrant. The annual town meeting will take place Saturday, June 25.
First Selectman George Richardson expressed the importance of Westport Island voters attending the RSU 12 budget meeting in support of the budget. The meeting will take place at the Chelsea Elementary School at 6:30 p.m. May 19.
Voters from the seven towns within RSU 12, Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield, and Windsor, will vote on a nearly $21 million school budget with more than $10 million in local contributions.
Westport Island’s assessment for 2017 is a decrease of $149,210 from the 2016 assessment. With the exception of Alna, with a decrease of $2,136 from its 2016 assessment, the other towns have an increase in their 2017 assessments. The total budget is an increase of 2.9 percent over last year.
Richardson said some of the towns with a substantial increase are going to be unhappy, and Westport Island voters should attend to support the budget.
The selectmen received an email from RSU 12 Board of Directors member Richard DeVries saying the Head Start program will be available to Westport Island children.
Since the town of Wiscasset is no longer offering the Head Start program, it will be available to Westport Island children in Bath or Damariscotta.
According to DeVries’ email, parents may contact Pat Maguire at 442-7963 ext. 361 or 844-1351. A case worker will come to the home to enroll the child.
The selectmen will not meet on Monday, April 18, due to the Patriot’s Day holiday.