Members of the park committee cut the ceremonial ribbon for the Crafts Landing and Park at the East Cove of Moosehead Lake in downtown Greenville on Sept. 10. Credit: Stuart Hedstrom / Piscatquis Observer

GREENVILLE, Maine — New boat landings and green space preserved in Greenville will allow public access to Maine’s largest lake year round from the downtown area.

Although there are several areas where the public may access Moosehead Lake, Crafts Landing and Park is tied into Greenville’s economic development and downtown revitalization plans. With eight new docks and green space in the downtown, the unveiling of the project marks a dramatic expansion of public access to one of Maine’s most iconic tourist attractions. Local leaders are hopeful that better shore access and other accommodations will attract more visitors to the downtown, which could encourage more businesses to open there.

Investment in projects such as the park creates jobs, increases property values and adds quality of life amenities that could draw people to the region to live, work and play, Moosehead Lake Region Economic Development Corp.’s President Steve Levesque said.

“What you’re seeing around you here in Greenville — the park, the buildings that are being revitalized — are key elements of that plan,” Levesque said. “Mainly to facilitate new capital investment into a revitalized downtown to enhance public access to and from the lake and to conserve an important downtown green space. All we’re doing is carrying out the vision that the town had.”

Townspeople approved a downtown revitalization and development plan at their annual town meeting in 2019.

Crafts Landing and Park, which is two years in the making, opened Friday at 3 Lakeview St., near the corner with Pritham Avenue with several hundred feet of shoreline on the East Cove waterfront of Moosehead Lake.

The park is named for the Crafts family, whose history has been intertwined with the town of Greenville for more than a century.

Crafts Landing and Park has eight public docks for boats and float planes, native plants and trees in the park, a kiosk listing donors and green space for relaxing and holding outdoor events, but the major asset is the public access, Levesque said.

In winter, the park will be a snowmobile access point and others can also easily get onto the frozen Moosehead Lake for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating, he said. Lighting will meet Dark Sky Standards. There will be picnic tables, landscaping and a bike rack added to the existing walking path and benches.

Through negotiations with the EJ Richardson family, the lot was split in two, with half made into a park and the other a building lot. The economic development corporation bought the park land in July 2020, and approximately $475,000 of the near $500,000 fundraising goal has been met.

Margarita Contreni, vice president of the Moosehead Lakes Region Economic Development Corp., and Forest Society of Maine Executive Director Karin Tilberg led the Park Committee that saw the project through.

Co-chairpersons Margarita Contreni, right, and Karin Tilberg, executive director of the Forest Society of Maine, were among the speakers at the opening for Crafts Landing and Park in Greenville on Sept. 10. Credit: Stuart Hedstrom / Piscataquis Observer

“Our partnership [with the committee] has been a wonderful example of how the Land for Maine’s Future program works with local organizations to achieve their conservation, recreation and economic development objectives while ensuring public access for all,” Land for Maine’s Future Executive Director Sarah Demers said.

The future success of Greenville rests on a delicate balance between development and conservation, public and private land, native traditions and tourist culture, Tom Watt, a Greenville resident, said.

“I have lived on the lake my whole life and I have been able to use private property freely but those days aren’t what they used to be, so to have more public access like this is so important to me,” previous landowner EJ Richardson said.