Rockland takes to air to view future 'city to wilderness' trail

By Stephen Betts | Nov 10, 2017
Photo by: Kyle Swan Taking flight Nov. 8 to view a proposed trail from MacDougal Park to Route 90 are, from left, Rockland Public Services Director David St. Laurent, City Manager Tom Luttrell, Parks Commission members Kyle Swan, Joseph Steinberger and John Anders, who is the trails manager for the Georges River Land Trust. The plane ride was donated by Penobscot Island Air.

Rockland — A plan to develop a trail from the heart of the city to the wilderness of the Rockland Bog is in the works.

City officials took to the air Wednesday, Nov. 8, to view the proposed path of the trail that would go from the MacDougal Park on Broadway to 174 acres the city purchased earlier this year in the Rockland Bog adjacent to Route 90.

Penobscot Island Air donated the flight for the scouting mission organized by John "Mike" Grondin, chair of the Rockland Parks Commission.

"A trail from the city to the wilderness is exciting," said Parks Commission member Joseph Steinberger.

The Rockland City Council voted May 8 to designate the former MacDougal School as a park. At that same meeting, councilors voted to authorize the city manager to enter into a purchase-and-sales agreement with Malcolm Von Saltza for 174 acres he owned in the Bog near Route 90.

City Manager Tom Luttrell said Nov, 9 that the purchase has been finalized at a price of $52,000.

"This is spectacular property," Steinberger said.

Much of the 174 acres is along the Oyster River, which flows through the Bog. The lot connects to multiple hiking and snowmobile paths.

The proposal for a trail that runs through Rockland has been discussed for several years.

The city acquired the MacDougal property from Regional School Unit 13 in 2010 after the former elementary school was closed. The building was later demolished and multiple uses were considered, including housing and a solar panel site before the decision was made to make it a park.

The city wants to connect MacDougal Park to city-owned athletic fields on Old County Road and then have the trail go up Benner Hill, where the city owns a large tract. This then leads to the Bog, where the city owns property.

Steinberger pointed out that the city will next try to get property owners to give the city rights-of-way to cross portions of their properties to connect MacDougal to Old County Road. He said state law is very clear that the property owners are not liable for anyone injured on rights-of-way granted to municipalities.

Steinberger credited fellow Parks Commission member Kyle Swan with pursuing this cross-community trail project.

"Many communities benefit from centrally located green spaces," Swan said in a statement to the council earlier this year. "This can entice people to invest in the community and will indirectly generate tax revenues."

Comments (5)
Posted by: Sandra Schramm | Nov 11, 2017 21:47

Gerald you should stop by the next Parks Commission meeting December 7. Check the calendar for time. Anyone interested in hearing about plans or who wants to volunteer to help out is more than welcome to attend the meetings.  The asset that makes endeavors like this work is teamwork and volunteerism.  You are most certainly correct that his opportunity is filled with possibilities and wonderful opportunities for healthy outdoor activities for all to enjoy. Soon there will be a walking path for people of all ages in a safe place to walk. There is a water fountain installed and already there is use of the park.  Lots of parking and even plans for community gardening for Spring.  Please everyone, young and old, check it out! Also as a reminder, the Rockland Volunteer garden Group is actively seeking more volunteers to work in our city parks. It is an all volunteer effort and we would love to have more men, women and teens join our activity. I can be reached by contacting Parks Commissioner John (Mike) Grondin.

 



Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Nov 11, 2017 14:37

Sandra:

 

As you probably know, the City doesn't necessarily have to acquire land to complete the trail, just easements from current owners. The new trail will also provide wintertime activities like snowshoeing and cross country skiing. It may be possible to extend a spur to the City park at the south end of Lake Chickawaukee, allowing residents and visitors to walk or ride bikes there for a swim (assuming a safe way to cross Rte 17 is designed).

You are correct that this will be an attraction. In the Midwest, many abutters opposed the idea of rails-to-trails proposals, converting abandoned rail lines into trail networks. Fears of break-ins, truancy, etc. proved to be unfounded.

Indeed, congratulations are in order.



Posted by: Sandra Schramm | Nov 10, 2017 21:29

This venture is a leap forward for Rockland. The vision required to pursue this project has been in the works for some time without the newly acquired land. A project such as this is worthy for the city as other Maine towns and cities are ahead of us. There has already been a great deal of volunteer effort and excitement put forth and that spirit should continue to grow. The MacDougal Park and what may be billed as a "Wilderness Trail" are projects that are attractive to prospective home buyers in the area, particularly those bringing their own jobs with them. This activity will serve many from all around the area and bring visitors who enjoy the sport of hiking and cross country biking. Plus the trails will connect Rockland to other great hiking areas.  Congrats to all of Rockland and thanks to members of the Rockland Parks Commission! John (Mike) Grondin inspires a great deal of enthusiasm within our City.

 



Posted by: Dale Hayward | Nov 10, 2017 17:11

Can we get a handle on how much this project might cost the taxpayers and when and where do we get the money.?



Posted by: George Terrien | Nov 10, 2017 10:10

Thank you, Joe, for thanking Kyle for his vision, work, and persistence in imagining and promoting the trail.  At the very least, I think that the pond the trail will pass should be called "The Swan Pond".

George Terrien



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