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April 20, 2021

Newly acquired 27 acres of conservation land in Portland also protects current preserves

outlined parcel Courtesy / The Boulos Co. Outlined here is the 27.38-acre Rand Road parcel acquired by the city of Portland for conservation.

The city of Portland has acquired 27 acres of forested land and plans to preserve the parcel through the municipal land bank, according to a news release Monday.

The property, at 204 Rand Road, will join existing preserves at the adjacent Fore River Sanctuary and Jewell Falls.

The city bought the parcel from the Avangrid Foundation for $325,000 after the Portland City Council approved the purchase in December. The foundation donated 85% of the appraised value — or roughly $275,000 — to the Portland Land Bank to support the acquisition. 

Drew Sigfridson and Jon Rizzo of the Boulos Co. brokered the deal, which closed Feb. 26.

This land, near outer Congress Street, has been high-priority open space for several years due to its location, network of trails, and natural and recreational values. With the addition, the city has added protection to the largest remaining undeveloped area around the headwaters of the Fore River.

“When you’re hiking in these woods you are among soaring pine trees, streams and open wetlands,” Portland Land Bank Commission Chair Pat Bailey said in the release. “You feel like you are in a special place but you are right in the heart of Portland.”

The commission is responsible for identifying and protecting open space resources within the city of Portland. 

“Sometimes small-dollar transactions have really large impacts and this is an example of one of those sales,” Sigfridson, managing director of the Boulos Co., said in a separate email.

“It took a lot of effort from a lot of committed people looking to do the right thing for Portland Trails, the city of Portland and our local residents. We give a lot of credit to the buyer and the Avangrid Foundation for making this happen. The trails are terrific out there!”

The property lies near the city’s western boundary, in a large, undeveloped area comprised of forests, streams and wetlands. The area is an inland waterfowl and wading bird habitat, according to the commission’s 2020 report. 

A Central Maine Power Co. right-of-way that runs the length of the parcel. Several footpaths wind through the woods and along the right-of-way, connecting to Portland Trails’ Fore River Sanctuary trail system. 

The Avangrid Foundation is the charitable arm of Avangrid Inc. (NYSE: AGR), the parent corporation of Central Maine Power. The foundation worked with the city and Land Bank Commission to assess the best and highest use of the property and then to ensure the parcel would be kept as open space and available to the public.

“At the Avangrid Foundation we look for unique opportunities to partner with our local communities and pursue our mission of environmental stewardship, and this was the perfect opportunity to do both,” said Executive Director Nicole Licata Grant. “We want to thank the Boulos Co. and the law firm of Curtis Thaxter for the additional donation of time and services to bring it to fruition.”  

Courtesy / Portland Land Bank Commission
Seen in yellow are the Land Bank’s holdings throughout Portland.

Public access to the Rand Road property will continue via the trail network maintained by Portland Trails, which can be reached from Rowe Avenue, Starbird Land and Rand Road.

The city said that development of the parcel would not only be a lost opportunity to protect a unique natural area, but would degrade the value of adjacent conservation lands.

“This is a big deal for Portland to be able to preserve this 27-acre parcel that helps the city accomplish so many goals at once — from preserving our existing tree canopy and habitat areas, to getting us closer to 100% of our residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park or trail, to creating outdoor recreation and exercise opportunities for walkers, bikers, students, commuters, and dog-walkers,” said Ethan Hipple, the city’s director of Parks, Recreation & Facilities.

“One hundred years from now, when Portland may have grown or changed so much, residents will be thankful that this gem of a property was set aside for the public to share and enjoy forever. The city of Portland and the Land Bank Commission want to thank the law firm of Jewell & Bulger for donating time and services to complete this transaction.” 

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