For years, Gardiner residents have been walking along a stretch on the northern bank of the Cobboseecontee Stream from a point across from 261 Harrison Ave. stretching downstream for about a half-mile to the Paper Mill dam.

The informal path on the north side of the stream follows a disused sewer access road and gives residents a close-up view of wildlife like the ospreys who nest in the area and the eagles that fly overhead.

This week, elected city officials are being asked to formalize the arrangement by creating a public path on the city-owned land.

If that happens, another section of trail in the city’s Cobbossee Corridor will be completed at no cost to city taxpayers, Karen Tucker said.

“We have the money to help with costs,” said Tucker, who is the president of the Gardiner Rotary Club.

Tucker said work started in earnest on the project two years ago. At that time, she said, people who had an interest in the trail from the Kennebec Land Trust and representatives from the Gardiner Water District, the city, the Friends of the Cobbosee Watershed and Upstream, a group that’s advocating for fish passage on Cobbosseecontee Stream, conducted site reviews and the plan started taking shape.

“The vision, as it has been by the city for a very long time, has been to create a trail all along the stream,” she said. “It’s low-hanging fruit to formalize it.”

The Gardiner Rotary secured a matching $1,000 grant from the regional Rotary organization and put up a like amount of money, she said, and the Robinson Foundation committed $2,500.

That money will be used to buy signs and a dispenser for dog litter cleanup bags. Tucker said three picnic tables have been bought and painted and will be set out next year.

Mike Firlotte, who has lived across from the area for about a decade, has spent time fishing in the stream with his son and walking his dogs.

“It’s an easy trail, and you can see the seasonal changes,” he said. When the water level is high, it can drown out the sound of cars, and right now, the fall colors are gorgeous, he said.

It’s typical to see, depending on the time of year, the wood ducks and mallards that take advantage of the year-round open water, the eagles that are dependably around if you know where to look, the beaver, and the osprey who have built a nest behind the mill building. In addition to the building, there’s evidence of buildings and dams that are no longer standing.

“A lot of times, you have the whole place to yourself,” he said.

This effort follows plans announced earlier this year to complete a section of the Cobbossee Trail project that will extend the Kennebec River Rail Trail through downtown Gardiner.

The Harrison Avenue Nature Trail won’t connect with that stretch, as it is across the stream.

“I happened to move (to Gardiner) in 2004,” Tucker said. As she was learning about her new city, including its plans for the corridor along the stream, she said she became involved with the Heart and Soul project that was aimed at increasing civic involvement and also became involved with the Rotary Club.

“Rotary has been part of this all along, and we had a work day over there a couple of weeks ago with the Maine Conservation Corps. We’ve been doing what we can,” she said.

Organizers have created a plan for the city’s code enforcement officer to review to ensure any activity will not have an impact on the stream. The next step, she said, is having the trail recognized as an official trail in the city.

Before the decision goes to the City Council, it was expected to go before the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee on Monday night.

The city council is also expected to:

• meet with the companies that were awarded bids in the former T.W. Dick Steel properties for abatement, demolition and earthwork; elected city officials and residents will have a chance to ask questions;

• hear the quarterly financial update as of Sept. 30;

• consider the warrant for the Nov. 8 election;

• consider meeting minutes.

The Gardiner City Council meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the City Council chambers in City Hall at 6 Church St.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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