DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Piscataquis County commissioners said they will look into the archives to see if Wilson Stream Pond Road in Elliotsville Township is a legal right-of-way.
Philanthropist Roxanne Quimby erected a gate on the road earlier this year and it has been a sore point with residents. The road leads to other properties aside from Quimby’s and also connects to Little Wilson Falls. The gate was yanked out by vandals in November.
The commissioners previously had said the road was no longer a public road since it had not been maintained by the county since Elliotsville deorganized in 1983.
Roy McSorley of Elliotsville Township has been a mainstay at commissioners meetings and has pushed them to look into the status of the road, which also has been known over the years as Wilson Road, Little Wilson Road and Campground Road.
“They finally agreed that the road never was officially closed,” said McSorley. “It has been listed as a seasonal right of way. They were concerned that it was legally abandoned, that no public money has been spent on it in 30 years. Thankfully, I came up with an Elliotsville town report in 1981 that says there was 45 yards of gravel put on that road in 1981.”
McSorley added that he also obtained letters from the Maine Department of Transportation that lists the road as a seasonal right-of-way.
The commissioners need more information to move forward, said Commissioner Tom Lizotte.
“The county is doing that [information gathering] for them,” Lizotte said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “We have someone from the county attorney’s office trying to find the documents from 30 years ago to make a good-faith effort.
“If we get enough information to make a determination, we will put it on the agenda to make a decision,” said Lizotte.
Lizotte said papers regarding the road may be in the county courthouse and in the state archives in Augusta.
“We have records on this road dating back to the 1890s,” he said. “We hope to know within a month. If so, we can make a ruling.”
Lizotte said if the road has not been maintained in 30 years, by state statute, it is not a public domain.
“Like many private land owners in Maine who have gated properties, we do our very best to balance private property rights and access,” Quimby said in an email Wednesday night. “We are careful to abide by the law and we will continue to do so.”
McSorley said he has lived in Elliotsville since 1949 and the road always has been accessible.
“Everybody says [Quimby] can post her land, but she can’t post that road. It’s a public road,” said McSorley. “That’s all we want. She can post her land, but that road belongs to the people of the state of Maine, not her.
“Little Wilson Falls is up there. A lot of people come up here every summer to drive up to them falls,” he said. “They’re not going to do it [next] year unless they move that gate.”
McSorley said he’s happy to see the commissioners look into the matter.
“I can appreciate the fact that they want to do everything legally and I think now that they have. I think they’re really working now for the interest of the people,” said McSorley.