BRUNSWICK, Maine — The Brunswick Town Council on Monday tabled a plan for managing 66 acres of wildlife habitat and open space in East Brunswick that could cost nearly $2 million to fully implement.
The Capt. William A. Fitzgerald USN Recreation and Conservation Area, off Old Bath Road, comprises part of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, and was the site of a U.S. Navy radio transmitter.
The town took ownership of the land in 2011. Since last September, a committee of councilors, town officials and property abutters has been trying to figure out what to do with it.
On Monday, councilors heard recommendations for preserving and opening the parcel for public use. The seven-phase plan, presented by Parks and Recreation Director Thomas Farrell, calls for adding trails, a playground and athletic fields to about 15 acres of the site. The rest of the space would be preserved as a conservation area.
There’s no timeline for making the improvements, and Farrell admitted that the project would require funds other than taxpayer dollars.
“The fact (is) that now is not a time when the town has discretionary funds to spend on this project,” he said.
Councilors seemed generally supportive of the “conceptual master plan,” but were skeptical about paying for it.
“I just think (the cost) is too much,” Councilor John Perreault said.
Although some say residents of East Brunswick need greater access to such recreational spaces, the recommendations come as the council begins to grapple with budget proposals for the 2016 fiscal year.
Meanwhile, Farrell is hoping the budget will include about $20,000 to make some initial improvements, including a gated entrance to the area.
Chairwoman Sarah Brayman said in an interview that she expects the council to take up the Fitzgerald area plan again in the coming weeks, but is also wary about its cost.
“This is a council that is very conscious about spending,” she said. “Anything with a price tag is going to be hard to address.”
The conservation area is named after Capt. William Fitzgerald, the last commanding officer of the former air station.