KITTERY, Maine — Voters overwhelmingly approved $275,000 in funding toward Brave Boat Headwaters, a 150-acre, $2 million land conservation project.
Voters approved the Kittery Land Trust’s request of $275,000 in public money by a vote of 1,458 to 447 Tuesday night, providing the support that KLT Executive Director Christine Bennett had previously said was crucial to help secure future state and federal funding.
Residents voting on Tuesday spoke out on both sides of whether the town should be bonding any of the cost of a private land trust, but in the end, the bond was supported by more than two-thirds of the more than 1,900 voters.
“There needs to be more town land for hunting, fishing, other recreational activities,” said Dylan Guadalupe. “There’s a lot of private land, but I think this will be worth it. It makes Kittery more livable. There are a lot of people coming in to the area and it’s nice to hold on to that piece of land.”
Others disagreed, including Jeff Farren, who wanted the town to focus on funding other projects.
“The town needs to work on other funds than to give money for land,” Farren said.
Also voting “No” to fund $275,000 of the project was Dennis Estes, one of the co-founders of the Kittery Land Trust. Estes said the history of the parcel, which was subject to a contentious development that eventually fell through, was the reason he voted against the bond.
“My problem is, the developer went through all these hoops from the town and residents to build there, and it seemed like the KLT became interested in the land to bail out the abutters,” Estes said.
Voting for the first time, 18-year-old Maeve Dow said that if the town could afford it, it should help pay for the conservation of Brave Boat Headwaters.
Dow, a senior at Traip Academy, said there has been concentrated study at the high school to help prepare students who were able to vote and those interested in town politics about the issues and candidates.
“We’ve talked a lot about it in our government class,” Dow said. “We’ve learned about the candidates and the issues and why we should vote for them or against them.”
The cost of the 150-acre Brave Boat Headwaters project is roughly $2 million, with the Kittery Land Trust proposing the bond for $275,000 and the Town Council approving it for public vote.
The goal of the Kittery Land Trust is to turn the land into a recreational and educational area for town residents, having already hosted winter events last year and Shapleigh School fifth-graders earlier this fall. The land is located in between two other conservation land efforts, providing conserved land from Mount Agamenticus to the Atlantic Ocean.