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Three tools adopted to manage Town open space

The Town Council has adopted three tools for the management of the Town's open space.

A management plan, a set of management policies, and ordinance amendments governing the management of open space were all adopted by the council at their May 14, 2012 meeting.

Adding an open-space management chapter to the existing conservation ordinance was an appropriate and thoughtful way to finish the work of the ad hoc Open Space and Greenbelt Management Plan committee, said Councilor Jessica Sullivan, a member of the committee. "The gist of the amendments is basically to help steward group size and use of our open space," she said. Procedures for use of Town open space are modeled after existing procedures for using Fort Williams Park.

Garvan Donegan, chairman of the Conservation Commission that made up the rest of the management-plan committee, also encouraged approval of the amendments. "These amendments will play a strong role in increasing public access opportunities to not only our great outdoor spaces but the associated trail networks," he told members of the council.

The new ordinance chapter covers trail closure, hours of operation, encroachments, vegetation damage or removal, tree stands, animal traps, motorized vehicles, and events. It codifies provisions of the Open Space Management Plan, which along with included policies was also adopted by the council May 14.

The adopted Management Plan for Greenbelt and Open Space includes an inventory of open space and easements owned by the Town, as well as adjacent properties owned by the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust. The inventory includes maps and descriptions; and names for previously nameless Town holdings. It also provides a model conservation easement, and a grid for quick identification of activities allowed at Town-managed properties such as swimming, horseback riding, and dog excerise.

The plan, policies and ordinance are the result of two years of work, 21 separate committee meetings and two public forums.