Town Of Cape Elizabeth
Cape Elizabeth News

10/16/03

Council approves update to Fort Williams master plan

The Town Council Wednesday unanimously approved an update to the master plan for Fort Williams Park.

The plan updates the original 1990 plan, the first ever long-term plan established for what has been called Cape Elizabeth's most precious asset.

Al Barthelman, chairman of the Fort Williams Advisory Commission, told councilors the plan breaks down and addresses the needs of individual areas within the park. "The park is actually a number of parks within the park," Barthelman said. "Everyone has their own memories of different parts of the park," he said.

The master plan update provides long-term direction for maintaining and preserving the park over the next 10-12 years. He assured councilors that the Fort Williams Advisory Commission is not trying to increase a demand for the park. For example, parking improvements do not call for more parking spaces than are already present.

Members of the Fort Williams Advisory Commission spent this summer reviewing and prioritizing recommendations included in the plan, Barthelman said. Top priorities include maintenance issues, including securing and stabilizing the Goddard Mansion, and repairing areas of the bleachers and Battery Garesche.

At a public hearing before the council, neighboring Delano Park resident Marion Guthrie applauded the master plan proposal, but said she was opposed to a separate proposal to delete the Fort Williams Park District from the town's zoning ordinance in favor of the master plan. "A master plan is a design," Guthrie said. "An ordinance is municipal law." Without the strength of an ordinance, Guthrie said she feared open space that is designated for passive use in the park would be vulnerable to development.

Next month, the council will consider a proposed zoning ordinance amendment that would delete the Fort Williams Park District, and instead refer to the new Fort Williams Master Plan for definitions and restrictions of fort uses. The proposal is part of a package of miscellaneous ordinance amendments that will be considered by the Town Council.

Councilor John McGinty clarified that dollar amounts for recommended improvements and enhancements stated in the master plan are subject to Town Council appropriation.

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