FAYETTE — The town, with a year-round population of 1,200, has managed to raise more than $30,000 in less than 10 weeks toward the creation of a public park on Hales Pond and Hales Brook.

Town officials on Monday confirmed the total of private donations.

A 28-acre property on Young Road with 1,300 feet of water frontage is being offered for sale by David and Robert Manter.

Town Manager Mark Robinson said the town has met the goal and “we are anxiously awaiting the response from the property owners.”

Robinson said the town has asked that the Manters make a decision on the property sale by next Monday so the town can secure the needed state and federal funding for the park project. The property purchase is being funded by grants from the state Land for Maine’s Future program and the U.S. Sport Fish Restoration Fund, but the town had to raise money to help the property owners move.

The grant money expires March 7, so the deal must be completed before then.

The owners are still looking for a new home.

“If we do sign, it will be going on faith that we do find land that’s affordable,” Roberta Manter said Monday. “We’ve been asking people to pray for us that we make the right decision.”

Manter praised the town for its work raising the money. The Manters had suspended their search for buildable property in western Maine and are now restarting it.

“We really want to make it work, but we need a lot of help to make it possible,” she said. “How do you look for land in the middle of winter? We kind of feel like we’re on an emotional roller coaster ride.” A public supper on Saturday that was originally designed as a fundraiser took on a celebratory theme when Robinson told attendees that the $30,000 goal had been reached. The Manters attended the supper.

“As I said at the supper, people far and wide gave to this effort because they care about the property owners and they care about the opportunity the sale provides (for) a community park,” Robinson said.

Donations came from as far away as South Africa, where a donor has ties to the town, Robinson said, and from residents in the neighboring towns of Readfield and Wayne.

Last year, the Manters agreed to allow the town to proceed with an application, which was ultimately successful, to the state’s Land for Maine’s Future application. The property has been in the Manter family for 40 years.

The program offered the couple $80,000 for the land, which was its appraised value; however, that compensation was less than the couple expected and not enough for them to find a new home in western Maine near relatives.

The town agreed to raise an additional $30,000 in private donations to assist the Manters with relocating and provide for some property cleanup.

“Donations are still coming in that will go toward the project,” Robinson said. “Some people are giving money in advance, recognizing that will go to park improvements if the sale does proceed.”

If the project does not proceed, the donations will be returned, Robinson said.

Residents at the last annual Town Meeting also approved an agreement with the state, which would have to be renewed every year, to help improve and maintain public access to Hales Pond via the Manters’ Young Road property.

Town crews and equipment would help maintain access, at a cost of up to 25 percent of the total cost, with the state picking up the other 75 percent and providing all materials.

There is limited public access to Fayette’s lakes and ponds, and the state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife has listed the 70-acre Hales Pond in Fayette as one of the lakes in need of guaranteed public access.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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