AUGUSTA — Last Thursday, March 23, a real estate closing was held at the offices of Kennebec Savings Bank, and the title to the historic 164-acre Howard Hill property formally passed from the Kennebec Land Trust to the City of Augusta.
This transaction successfully completed an eight-year process undertaken by the KLT, designed to preserve forever, as open space, the wooded backdrop to the state’s capitol. As part of the agreement, the City of Augusta has granted a conservation easement to KLT that ensures that the property will be conserved in perpetuity for the benefit of Maine’s people and wildlife.
A $163,500 grant award from the Land for Maine’s Future program supplemented a successful KLT fund-raising effort that made possible the $925,000 land purchase, as well as a $100,000 stewardship fund to be held by the City and used for maintenance of the property.
Augusta Mayor David Rollins noted, “This is an important day in the history of this city. Through the dedicated efforts of the folks at Kennebec Land Trust and the generosity of their donors, all Mainers, especially future generations, will reap the benefits of their work.”
Augusta City Manager Bill Bridgeo added, “Anyone who loves our state cherishes the iconic image of the Capitol dome set against the backdrop of Howard Hill. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to the donors, board, staff, and volunteers of KLT for what they have done. The City eagerly embraces its responsibility to conserve Howard Hill and to enhance opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors in the heart of the City.”
KLT Board Chair Mary Denison highlighted the tremendous volunteer contributions of KLT’s board members, and noted that 136 individuals, eight private and public foundations, and fifteen area businesses and non-profits donated to the Howard Hill Campaign. Executive Director Theresa Kerchner confirmed that three anonymous donors contributed funds that bridged the unexpected LMF shortfall and allowed KLT to meet its financial obligations, including payment of the Kennebec Savings Bank note. Kerchner also noted that the Trust is looking forward to the next steps with the City of Augusta which will focus on developing a property management plan, a network of trails, and history, conservation, forestland management, and outdoor recreation programs for all ages.