Town Of Cape Elizabeth
Cape Elizabeth News


Nordic ski group gets nod to begin first phase of Gull Crest trail project

The Town Council is continuing to move carefully toward establishing a competitive level system of ski trails on the town's Gull Crest property, as envisioned by the Cape Nordic ski club.

At their June 12 meeting, Town councilors gave Cape Nordic the go-ahead to proceed with their first phase of trail development, which includes funding and constructing 2.4 kilometers of cross-country ski trails in primarily upland areas on the property.

The council voted unanimously to allow Cape Nordic to proceed with Phase I, taking into consideration the Conservation Commission's assessment of the trail proposal. (Click here to view Conservation Commission memo) (pdf format)

"A key concern of the snowmobile community, raised earlier, was the issue of exclusive use," said Councilor Mary Ann Lynch at the June 12 meeting. "The Nordic group has assured us in writing that they will only ask for up to 4-5 days of exclusive use per winter," she said.

Cape Nordic first approached the Town Council in 2002 with a vision for establishing cross-country ski trails at Gull Crest. Having competitive level trails in Cape Elizabeth would save the time and costs associated with traveling to other communities for cross-country skiing, and would extend practice and competition time for Cape school teams.

The groomed trails would also benefit other recreation on the property, and it was the assurance of multi-use trails that was a key factor in the Conservation Commission's assessment of the proposal.

"At all other times the trail will be open to all other users," Lynch said. "And, just to be clear, that's walkers, snowshowers, recreational Nordic skiiers, as well as snowmobilers that will be able to benefit," she said.

Still, the Conservation Commission recommended the council concentrate on Phase I of the proposal, a smaller and environmentally less complicated project than the 4.2-kilometer proposal that Cape Nordic is contemplating. In a memo to the council dated June 5, the commission recommended that approval of Phase II be subject to an independent evaluation after completion of Phase I and at least a full season of use.

The council on June 12 approved the beginning of Phase I, subject to these conditions:

  • Completion of a preliminary engineering assessment by Oest Associates, the town's enginer, to include identification of wetlands if any; identification of the need for storm water and erosion control, and recommended methods for addressing those needs. The assessment will be paid for by Cape Nordic.
  • Presentation of any necessary Department of Environmental Protection and town permits.
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to complete Phase I.
  • Cape Nordic may not exclude other users from the trail, without the permission of the Town Council, more than 5 days each winter.

The council vote also stipulated that work on Phase I comply with the details on trail width, materials used, and cleanup as outlined in the Conservation Commission's June 5 memo, with the exception of a recommendation for a stone dust trail subsurface.

In a seperate motion, the council addressed Phase II of the project by directing the town manager, once the engineering report on Phase I is received, to solicit a second report from the town engineer on wetlands, and on stormwater and erosion control, for the Phase II areas. That report is also to be funded by Cape Nordic.

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