Patti’s April 23 “Inside New Gloucester” column

Alan Stearns, executive director of the Royal River Conservation Trust, leads a group on a tour of property that is anticipated to be purchased from Don and Lynne Chandler for recreational purposes. Patti Mikkelsen / For Lakes Region Weekly

Land trust tour

On April 15, a group of 18 people led by Alan Stearns, executive director of the Royal River Conservation Trust, ventured out on a walk down an old logging road near the junction of Church and Gloucester Hill roads. The property is owned by Don and Lynne Chandler.

According to RRCT’s website, the organization is collaborating with Gray-New Gloucester Little League to raise $1.5 million by Dec. 31. If the campaign is successful, it plans to purchase a 180-acre parcel for rebuilding and enlarging trail networks, expanding Little League ball fields, constructing a playground and providing maintenance and stewardship of the property.

Stearns said the first step taken was to go to the Board of Selectmen and convey its desire to obtain the support of the community in going forward with the project. He added that they are very aware that their facilities can change neighborhoods. Subsequently, RRCT representatives have met with area stakeholders to hear any concerns they may have while engaging in brainstorming conversations.

“The goal is good communication, teamwork and solutions,” Stearns said.

Intervale Road resident Nona Wills said while growing up in the Lower Village, she spent her whole childhood roaming those woods and the interurban trails in a safe environment.

“Your mother could kick you out the door in the morning and later you showed up for supper. The addition of extra people coming here and causing congestion to me takes away the safety and security of this cozy little village,” she said.

Stearns replied that no one would know for sure what would happen to the parcel if the RRCT doesn’t step in. He cited that the RRCT board and staff members believe that a conservation deed is better than the alternative if the goal is retaining a community’s essence.

“I think that if we work together, we are working for the childhood of future generations – to be able to have something closer to what we had when we were kids,” he said.

For Patti Mikkelsen’s complete column in the Lakes Region Weekly, go to