Plea made for Gov. LePage to release voter-approved bonds
CUMBERLAND – A group of concerned citizens, local officials, and state lawmakers gathered today at the site of Knight’s Pond and Blueberry Hill, a 215 acre property in jeopardy due to Gov. Paul LePage’s refusal to release voter-approved, Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) bond monies.
“The Knight Family spent decades working to preserve this site for our community and for future generations,” said Democratic State Senator Cathy Breen of Falmouth. “It’s time for Governor LePage to follow through on Maine voters’ commitment to conservation and issue the Land for Maine’s Future bonds, securing the state’s commitment to preserving this site.”
Last month, Gov. LePage announced he would withhold funding for voter-approved LMF projects to use as a bargaining chip in exchange for his plan to increase timber harvesting on state-owned lands to pay for residential energy-efficiency programs.
To date, more than $460,000 has been raised in private funds by more than 200 local donors. Additionally, the Towns of Cumberland and North Yarmouth have given $300,000 and $100,000 respectively. Pending, is the $225,000 in Land for Maine’s Future bond monies that were approved by Maine voters in 2012.
NHL Pro Eric Weinrich of Yarmouth made a plea to Gov. LePage to release the voter approved bond money saying, “In sports and in politics there are always good lessons of teamwork. I hope the Governor will agree that many future generations of kids playing pond hockey will all be winners when Knight’s Pond gets fully funded.”
In January, Mr. Weinrich, in conjunction with local land trusts Cumberland Land Trust and Royal River Conservation Trust, hosted 250 skaters at the pond to build momentum and awareness. The pond has been popular for pond hockey for generations of Mainers.
He added, “I want the next generation to have the same opportunities I had: to enjoy and learn the magic and sense of wonder of sports and adventure outside.”
Last week, the state delegation, including Democratic Senators Cathy Breen and Stan Gerzofsky and Republican Representatives Michael Timmons and Paul Chace, wrote a letter [attached] to Gov. LePage asking him to release the LMF monies noting the “emphatic support of the snowmobile clubs, hunters, and community groups” for the Knight’s Pond-Blueberry Hill project.
Sen. Breen added, “I invite the governor to visit this site we can show him this jewel. I’m optimistic that he’ll understand why so many have worked so hard to hand this site down to future generations.”
Currently, there are 30 projects in 15 of Maine’s 16 counties that are in jeopardy without Gov. LePage’s release of $11.5 million voter-approved bonds.
The Land for Maine’s Future program guarantees the preservation of land for public use such as hunting, fishing, and other recreational purposes.