Goodwin Farm, Eliot

Update: Eliot voters approved the appropriation by a 3:1 margin.

 

 

Eliot Ballot Question Could Protect 80 Acres on Goodwin Farm

June 1, 2017

ELIOT – Eliot voters have the opportunity to permanently protect 80 acres of open space on Eliot’s Goodwin Farm during the upcoming June 13th town election.

Question 23 on the ballot asks Eliot residents if they support appropriating $40,000 from the Eliot Land Bank Reserve to help preserve forested land on Goodwin Farm, which will be managed by Great Works Regional Land Trust (GWRLT). The funds will help GWRLT complete the property acquisition and will also go towards creating a parking area and expanding and improving public walking trails on the property. GWRLT plans to preserve an additional 30 acres of the property for active farming, and will contribute $210,000 to complete the entire 110-acre transaction.

The land falls within a focus area identified in Eliot’s Open Space Plan as a priority conservation area and it connects to town-owned lands that are currently inaccessible. It is in close proximity to the Eliot Town Forest and 2,250 acres of protected open space around York Pond region. The property offers opportunities for bird watching, hunting, skiing and hiking, and also upholds the legacy of farming in Eliot.

“Any addition to the Town’s pool of permanently protected conservation land is good, in my opinion” says Christine Bennett, Eliot resident and Executive Director of Kittery Land Trust. “But this project is also protecting a piece of working farmland, and so it really helps maintain a link to our cultural heritage of being a farming town.”

The Eliot Land Bank Reserve exists to fund projects that protect natural landscapes and resources in Eliot. The reserve currently has a balance of $71,000, and was last used in 2013 when $25,000 was appropriated at Town Meeting to Kittery Land Trust to help protect 90 acres of Rustlewood Farm that lie in Eliot.

The distribution of funds to the Goodwin Farm project will not impact property taxes, since the funds have already been set aside for these purposes, according to Jennifer Fox, an Eliot resident and former board member of GWRLT. “It’s good to expend these funds for what they were designated for,” says Fox. “This will both provide access to town lands, and also expand the area of conserved lands.”

GWRLT has begun negotiating with a farmer to turn the front acreage of the property back into a working farm, while conserving the remaining forested acreage for public access. “I think this is a great deal for the town,” added Fox. “It has direct benefits for recreation, and it also is a parcel that protects water quality in Shorey’s Brook. It is a benefit for many reasons.”

Eliot residents have the opportunity to vote on this ballot question on Tuesday, June 13th from 8am to 8pm at Marshwood Middle School.