VIDEO

Southport voters OK spending $1.25 million for beach, saving public access

Posted Sept. 19, 2013, at 12:37 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 19, 2013, at 2:05 p.m.
Sean Marston, 9, looks for sea creatures at low tide on Hendricks Head Beach in Southport in August. The beach is private, but the town may soon acquire it to preserve public access.
Sean Marston, 9, looks for sea creatures at low tide on Hendricks Head Beach in Southport in August. The beach is private, but the town may soon acquire it to preserve public access. Buy Photo
Brothers Sean, 9, (left) and Aiden Marston, 8, look for sea creatures at low tide on Hendricks Head Beach in Southport in August.
Brothers Sean, 9, (left) and Aiden Marston, 8, look for sea creatures at low tide on Hendricks Head Beach in Southport in August. Buy Photo
Matt and Heather Hussey of Fairfield launch their kayaks on Hendricks Head Beach in Southport in August.
Matt and Heather Hussey of Fairfield launch their kayaks on Hendricks Head Beach in Southport in August. Buy Photo
Children play on the rocks on Hendricks Head Beach in Southport in August
Children play on the rocks on Hendricks Head Beach in Southport in August Buy Photo

SOUTHPORT, Maine — With a hand vote, Southport voters determined Wednesday that the town would purchase private Hendricks Head Beach to retain public access.

The overwhelming majority of approximately 125 registered voters who attended Wednesday’s special town meeting said they favored spending $1.25 million to purchase the property, Town Clerk Donna Climo said Thursday.

Climo said about 30 nonvoters also attended the meeting. A “smattering” of people opposed to the vote did not raise their hands.

The purchase will add about $46 to a $1,000 tax bill for 10 years beginning in 2015, according to Climo.

For decades, the late Ruth Gardner allowed public access to the beach she owned, Southport resident Anne Grimes said in August. But when Gardner died, her nephews listed for sale the property and most of the beach for $1.4 million.

When summer resident Linda Murphy arrived this year, she noticed a “For Sale” sign posted at a house on the beach property, and began circulating a petition asking town officials to somehow retain public access to the beach frequented by schoolchildren, residents and others.

The suggestion was supported unanimously at a July town meeting, and selectmen subsequently offered $1.25 million for the property. The offer was accepted, Steven Bornick of Legacy Properties Sotheby’s confirmed at the time.

Voters Wednesday weighed in only on purchasing the property and how to finance it. Climo said there was “very minimal” discussion about how to use the 2,400-square-foot home and the rest of the 3.5 acres on the property.

Climo said Gardner’s estate has allowed public access as the property was on the market, and she expects that will likely continue.

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