Cumberland, Maine, to Vote on Bond Buying Oceanfront Property

Town will decide if it wants to borrow $3M to buy a 23 acre parcel of land off of Casco Bay

Maine has more than 6,000 miles of shoreline, but access to that high priced real estate is increasingly limited.

Now the town of Cumberland has a chance to buy a piece of that gold coast if voters decide it's worth it.

Cumberland has almost four miles of coastline abutting Casco Bay. Right now, the public has access to only 100 feet of it, divided into two rocky 50 foot parcels, but that could soon change.

On Election Day, voters in this town of 7,200 will be asked if they want the town to borrow $3 million to buy a 23 acre parcel of land off the Foreside Road.

Town Manager Bill Shane believes it's a unique opportunity.

"It's a large piece of property, probably one of the largest left in town and we're looking at acquiring almost 2,200 ft of ocean access," Shane said, pointing to a large map of the parcel tacked to his office wall.

The remainder of the Payson property would be privately developed with seven high end homes.

However, opponents with the Vote No Payson Bond campaign say voters should read the fine print on the limitations of buying this conservation land.

"They're not going to be able to do much with the land. They can't have a boat launch, or a boat ramp, no bathroom, you can't bring your pets. you can't really swim, so no swimming," said Sarah Steinberg, the group's spokesperson.

Buying that bond would also impact property taxes. On a $350,000 house, the average home price in Cumberland, property taxes would go up $57 the first year and $29 after that. It may not sound like much for ocean front property, but some voters wonder if that kind of money could and should be better spent elsewhere.

"I''d like to see our school have a performing arts center. It's badly needed, so right now I'm opposed to it," Cumberland resident Robert Beagan said.

If voters say no on Nov. 4, the land will likely be absorbed back into the private development for use by residents only, and the only way to enjoy it after that will be by boat, or from the opposing shoreline more than 4,000 feet away. 

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