Machiasport thinks big for Maine 200

“It just takes an idea to build something upon,” says Marcia Hayward, town clerk for the Machiasport. Her sentiment is the foundation of a plan to convert 27 acres of land, located behind the town office and fire department, into a recreational space affording activities for young and old in Machiasport. “We are just beginning, but there appears to be broad interest and support,” says Hayward.

While attending a Maine Municipal Association conference in early October, Hayward learned of the celebratory events the State of Maine is planning for its bicentennial in 2020, Maine 200, and walked away with some thoughts of her own. To bring these to reality, she has since received the endorsement of the selectmen to begin preparations to write and submit a grant and also to garner additional public support.

Hayward was in the process of reviewing the town’s comprehensive plan, which outlines a town’s vision for infrastructure and service improvements, as well as anticipated investments for growth. A municipality’s plan is required to be updated every 12 years. If maintained according to statute, a plan allows for financial incentives and support from certain state agencies. The last update the Machiasport plan received was in early 2010.

The 27-acre plot of land located directly behind and adjacent to the current Machiasport Town Office and Fire Department would be the future site of a recreational and service area for Machiasport residents and visitors to the area. (Photo courtesy of Tom Chastain)

It was during her review when Hayward realized some of the proposed projects within the comprehensive plan matched some of her own ideas. “Much of the 300-page document has buried within it some really interesting ideas,” says Hayward. “What better way to incorporate some of the vision this document has into something useful for the town, especially its youth?” The project, Machiasport Maine 200, begins with the submission of a grant application to the state for $10,000, which will be matched by the town.

Another advocate of the project is Sue Almendinger, current principal at Fort O’Brien Elementary School (FOB) in Machiasport. “The town park portion of this project was something my team of students worked on when Phil Rose was a selectman,” says Almendinger. “After he passed away, we didn’t feel that this was viable or even what the town needed at the time. Actually, we felt like there were more pressing needs, especially for fishermen.”

FOB students are planning to create trails for biking and hiking throughout the acreage and will include areas where “teaching gardens” can be planted. “My students are excited about this project because they believe there isn’t much to do in the town for kids and that this would not only give them something to do, but something bigger to be part of,” says Almendinger. “We are visiting Acadia National Park next week to look at hiking trails. We are also reaching out to other towns and school groups who have created community parks.”

Initial long-term thoughts include a separate recreational center, a new public works facility and a tricentennial forest, which ties directly to the grant via Maine 200. “We will use a portion of the cleared land to plant a forest of trees, which will then be harvested 100 years from now, in time for the state’s tricentennial celebration,” says Hayward. Other items in the initial plan are: hiking trails, fruit trees, basketball and tennis courts, picnic area and a small pond or water feature at the center of the common area.

Newly elected Selectman Michael Hinerman is looking forward to seeing the town’s utilization of this property and admits it is long overdue. “It is exciting to see people in town have a vision for the future, and it will be fulfilling to see us work together to reach a common goal,” says Hinerman. “That land was originally purchased in 1993 with the goal that it would become the town’s center of operations starting with the fire station and the town office that are here today. Continued projects, such as the Machiasport Maine 200, are fruits of that vision and hard work from the citizens of the town. The selectmen are here to help facilitate this effort.”

Hayward is seeking input from the Machiasport selectmen and planning board as well as residents and seasonal residents to assist in both the planning and implementation phase. “We have a long way to go. But it’s a start, and without a start, nothing moves forward,” says Hayward.

Monetary donations will be accepted anytime and will be held in a separate project account. Checks should be made out to Town of Machiasport, referencing Machiasport Maine 200 project. The mailing address is PO Box 267, Machiasport, ME 04655

RJ Heller

About RJ Heller

Having arrived here from Pennsylvania over four years ago, there has been plenty to learn and even more to observe. This place is different, but I mean that in a good way. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, I am a college graduate with a teaching degree, a business founder and seller, and a father of two children with my wife Stephanie; life has been full and somewhat adventurous, but finding Maine remains a high watermark in my life.