as told by Board Member Sam Hull
In a nutshell, it was $16.49 that got us up and running.
In late 2016, the “town fathers” of Arundel were thinking about building a new Town Hall. The old facility on Limerick Road was badly overcrowded and costing more every year to maintain. This was at a time when local events had just highlighted the need to find new ways to build greater community in Arundel. The “Future” was happening and would impact the lives of our descendants; the question for many of us was what could we do now to try to preserve the fast-vanishing small town culture and unique rural character of our little Maine town?
A small group saw the new Town Hall situation as a great opportunity to do something more than just build a “black box” for our town offices; we also saw it as a way to preserve the unique rural landscape of Arundel and to give residents ways to come together in building something for our future. The more we talked about this vision, it became clear to us that the new Town Hall was also a chance to create ways where people young and old could enjoy the precious world of nature around them, learn about and experience this landscape “up close & personal” and be part of creating something for their children and grandchildren to experience.
This all came into focus when the selectmen narrowed the site search for a new Town Hall to two alternatives. One was in an industrial zone, away from our population centers and although already Town-owned, needing expensive site work. The other option was 47 wooded acres on Limerick Road – far in excess of the 8-10 acres needed - but much closer to where people lived and also offering trail access to the Eastern Trail and with lower site development costs.
But how to start? We were soon fortunate to be introduced to the Executive Director of the long-established Kennebunkport Conservation Trust and they agreed to meet with us. We told them of our vision but explained that we really didn’t want to “reinvent the wheel”. We asked if they could take us under their wing and teach us how to build a conservation land trust. KCT talked it over and offered to help and support us!
In early 2017, we organized the Arundel Conservation Trust (“ACT”) as an independent & self-financing chapter of KCT. Shortly thereafter KCT transferred to ACT stewardship of two other properties in Arundel that had been bequeathed to them; they also offered to loan us funds for the Limerick Road property. The six founding members of ACT emptied their pockets and made our initial deposit in the ACT bank account of $16.49 – the exact amount that KCT started with over 40 years ago!
With this foundation, we worked out a critical Cooperation Agreement with the Town of Arundel and in December 2017, when they purchased the 47 acre Limerick Road property, ACT re-purchased the 37 acres behind the new Town Hall site from the Town, funding it with the loan from KCT.
Thus, ACT was born. We had stewardship of three properties in Arundel totaling nearly 100 acres, owed KCT a lot of money - but still only six members. We had our work cut out for us!
The story in the next chapter is how we are growing. We’re building trails, adding new members and working hard to achieve our Vision.