Thanks to incredible support from the community and a great partnership with the Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church, CELT succeeded in its campaign to protect the final leg of the 8.2-mile Cross Town Trail forever! A Celebration and Ribbon Cutting was held on Saturday, June 4, appropriately during the half-time break of the Cross Town Walk held on the trail each spring.
On May 31, 2022, CELT completed its purchase of a conservation easement on 6.2 acres of the CEUMC property. The easement guarantees that the wooded property in the center of Cape Elizabeth will remain in its natural state and the public will have access to the trail across the property forever. The church retains use of the land for its outdoor chapel and nature-based Eco-Ministry programming. A separate agreement with the church provides CELT with 20 parking spaces at the back of the parking lot near the entrance to the trail for trail users. The new easement will be named, “Chapel Woods”.
CELT Executive Director Cindy Krum recognized the incredible collaboration with the church and thanked CELT’s Board of Directors and the many members of the community who supported this amazing effort. “This was a real community effort. We were so pleased with the response from the community to raise funds to complete this project. We received many gifts from people who had not previously given. It’s clear that this property and the preservation of the Cross Town Trail is really important to the residents of Cape and nearby towns. We’re grateful for the support and so pleased that with this help we were able to protect the final piece of the Cross Town Trail for everyone forever!”
Steve Hill, CEUMC Administrative Council Chairperson, remarked that this collaboration has been in the works for many years and the “preservation and conservation of this land is very critical in many ways — to preserve this land forever is very important”.
The mid-day ceremony was observed by members of the church, members of CELT, and participants in CELT’s Cross Town Walk, which began at Kettle Cove and was moving on to Portland Headlight after the ribbon-cutting, led by volunteer Andrea Southworth, Board president Liz Murley and CELT staff.
The property located at 280 Ocean House Road in Cape Elizabeth, sits just about at the mid-point of the popular Cross Town Trail that winds from Fort Williams Park through woods, fields and marshes, and along the shore of Great Pond all the way to the beach at Kettle Cove – more than 8 miles. It’s well-used by walkers, runners, dog-walkers, bikers, skiers and snowshoers throughout the year. For over 35 years, CELT and the Town of Cape Elizabeth have worked to permanently conserve various pieces of the Trail, through land purchases and easements, land set aside to offset development, and state-owned lands. Until now the portion that lies on the CEUMC property has remained unprotected.
Being at the midpoint of the trail, this linkage is critical. The Methodist church has generously allowed access to the trail for years but it has never been a permanent fixture. By purchasing this easement, CELT has not only protected the forest and its wildlife, but has ensured that the entire Cross Town Trail will always be available for the public’s enjoyment. It has also ensured easy access to the 200-acre Robinson Woods Preserve that connects to CEUMC via the Canter Way easement from the town center and Cape Elizabeth schools.
Says Liz Murley, president of CELT, “When my husband Tom and I first moved to Cape Elizabeth, we started looking around for what our new town had to offer. One of the first things I noticed in the Cape Courier was an upcoming Cross Town Trail walk guided by CELT staff and volunteers. I went on that walk, and it astonished me that we went all the way from Fort Williams to Kettle Cove with almost no time at all on pavement. I’m so excited to know that that experience will always be available for anyone who wants it.”