Land bond seeks $10 million for variety of uses

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Question 3 on the ballot Tuesday seeks $9.75 million to invest in land conservation, working waterfront preservation and state parks. It would cost taxpayers $2.4 million in interest, for a total estimated cost of $12.1 million.

As of July 31, $477 million in state bonds were outstanding, totaling $553 million with interest factored in, according to the state treasurer.

Nearly $9.3 million raised by Question 3 would be distributed by the Land for Maine’s Future Board. Portions must be spent for the acquisition of land for conservation, water access, wildlife and fish habitat, outdoor recreation including hunting and fishing, working waterfronts and farmland preservation. The board would specify which land and sites would be acquired.

The board has not yet determined which land it wants, though Tim Glidden, director of the Land for Maine’s Future Program, said the board would be most interested in acquiring land with a strong connection to Maine’s economy ā€” property that could enhance tourism, for example.

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“We’d be looking for the ones that really provided the best statewide bang for the buck,” Glidden said.

The remaining $500,000 would go to the state Department of Conservation to preserve state parks and properties it manages. It would leverage another $500,000 to pay for some badly needed upgrades and repairs at state parks, such as bathrooms, showers, handicapped accessibility and general repairs, said Conservation Commissioner Eliza Townsend.

An engineering study in 2004 found that total needs in the state parks and historic sites amounted to $33 million. A voter-approved bond issue of $7.5 million in 2007 paid for 14 projects at 26 parks, but there’s still plenty of work that could be done with the new bonds.

“It would be another shot in the arm,” Townsend said.

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