A family foundation has purchased 258 acres of land in Gorham to be used for public recreation.

The property, on lower Main Street, was bought by the Shaw Brothers Family Foundation, formed by two brothers who own Shaw Brothers Construction in Gorham.

The land was sold by ecomaine, the waste and recycling organization owned by 20 communities in Maine.

Ecomaine said the transaction, approved by its board of directors Thursday night, is valued at $1.75 million, but the organization will pay back $100,000 to the foundation over five years to help pay for construction of trails and roads to the property, which is near Mosher Corner and abuts a section of the Presumpscot River.

The foundation told the Gorham Town Council last year that it plans to build a road, parking lot and walking trail to the river on the site and also use some of the land for farming. That portion would be closed to the public during the growing season, Jon Shaw said, but could be used by the public in the winter for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and skating.

He said a farmers market and possibly some commercial uses could be developed along lower Main Street, also known as Route 25, as a way to provide some taxable property for town coffers.

Ecomaine bought the property in 1989 for $3.5 million and originally planned to build a processing facility for construction and demolition debris, then considered an organic waste energy recovery plant. Both ideas turned out to be too costly to build on the site, ecomaine officials said, and the parcel has a lot of wetlands that make it unsuitable to create a landfill for incinerator ash.

Shaw Brothers has several gravel pits in Gorham and its headquarters is on Mosher Road, near the parcel the foundation purchased.

Jon Shaw said the goal is to preserve public access to land in Gorham. He also said he and his brother grew up on a farm in the town and want to make sure that agriculture still has a place in the region.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

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