People play ice hockey on Chris Pond in Southwest Harbor in this undated photo. Credit: Courtesy of Southwest Harbor

Voters in Southwest Harbor agreed Monday to accept a gift of land next to Chris Pond so that the town can improve access to the popular wintertime skating spot.

The measure was approved by a voice vote at Southwest Harbor’s annual town meeting, according to Town Clerk Jennifer LaHaye.

The pond, located within a five-minute walk from the town office in the central village, is owned by the town but has a narrow access road and enough parking for only roughly a half-dozen cars. With Monday’s vote, Maine Coast Heritage Trust will donate two adjacent properties to the town so the town can consider putting in a wider driveway and more parking.

Despite the support shown by Monday’s vote, there has been some local contention over whether the town should expand the site.

Prior to local elections in 2022, some residents criticized the town’s select board for generally opposing potential improvements to the pond property, and for specifically failing to apply for a grant that could have funded such improvements.

Voter dissatisfaction with the board’s lack of support for this, and other projects such as rebuilding part of Main Street and constructing a town garage, led to two new board members being elected in May 2022. 

Southwest Harbor’s municipal elections are being held Tuesday, May 2, but the select board race is uncontested this year. The only names on the ballot in that race are Carolyn Ball, who is currently serving on the board, and Chapin McFarland, who is running for a seat currently held by longtime board member George Jellison, who decided not to seek re-election.

Avatar photo

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....