Close the Gap Community Meeting Summary – 9/15/2020

The Eastern Trail held a virtual forum on September 15th regarding the Close the Gap project to build the 1.6 miles of trail between the Nonesuch River in Scarborough and the Wainwright Field Complex in South Portland. Thank you for your interest and support for this exciting project!

Anticipated Project Timeline

The final appraisal report for trail easements is with the Town, and they were planning to review and approve last week. Then they will reach out to individuals with offers of compensation based on the appraisal.

Once all the easements are in place, the Town of Scarborough will develop a bid for trail construction and put it out for solicitation. It is estimated this will happen in January or February this year.

Once a bidder is chosen the intent is to build the trail during the 2021 spring/summer construction season.

The Town of Scarborough is the project manager for this complex project including the two bridges, one over the Nonesuch River and the other over the railyard to get to Pleasant Hill Rd.

Summary of Questions

Is the appraisal document for trail easements available to the public? The Town of Scarborough commissioned the study with a private appraisal company. Any inquiry regarding availability of the appraisal document is the decision of the Town of Scarborough.

Is there a map of the proposed Close the Gap section of the trail? You can find information, including a map of the proposed trail, at the Eastern Trail website link: https://www.easterntrail.org/close-the-gap/

Could the trail be groomed for cross country skiing? Much of the trial shares an easement with Unitil for their natural gas line. No motorized vehicles are currently allowed on the trail to ensure the safety and integrity of the gas line. Therefore, motorized cross country ski grooming equipment would not be compatible on the trail. Anyone is of course welcome to ski on the trail, but it will remain ungroomed.

Are there plans to pave the Eastern Trail? No, there are not currently plans to pave the gravel portions of the eastern trail. The Unitil natural gas line easement does not allow for paving over the gas line in order to provide access for regular maintenance activities and protect the integrity of the gas line. Some small portions of the trail are currently paved in order to reduce erosion, particularly on sloped areas approaching bridges. The northern end of the trail in South Portland is currently paved since this section is within a more densely developed city landscape.

Who is responsible for maintaining the trail? The trail is maintained by each of the municipalities it crosses between South Portland and Kennebunk. This includes cutting grass and brush, removing downed trees, signage, and fence repair. Pedestrian bridges are the responsibility of each municipality except the bridge over the Maine Turnpike, which is the responsibility of the Turnpike Authority. The Eastern Trail Alliance is responsible for recording maintenance needs and reporting to the municipalities via the Eastern Trail Management District.

Again, thank you for your interest in this exciting project.

The meeting zoom recording is available upon request if you missed it. Please contact Jon Kachmar, Eastern Trail Executive Director at 1-860-227-0914 or jon.kachmar@easterntrail.org.