We are residents of Harpswell writing with concerns about the imminent sale of the Harpswell Coastal Academy building and land at 9 Ash Point Road. While we understand that HCA is liable for repayment of debts and is making every attempt to procure the funds necessary to finance staff salaries, we are worried that the pace with which the sale is taking place will ultimately compromise the character of the community and the natural resources on which it depends. This is especially concerning given that the original premise of the school’s educational mission was place-based and natural resource-minded.

The corner of Harpswell Neck Road and Ash Point Road is a prominent location this far down a remote peninsula. Changes here are likely to shape the future development and character of this region of town. There are few ordinances governing how this parcel of land might be developed, leaving the neighborhood vulnerable to the whims of a developer who may — or may not — have the best interests of the community in mind.

Of primary concern is the carrying capacity of the aquifer. In recent drought summers, the wells at 4 Ash Point Road, directly across the street from HCA, have run dry. In the three decades prior to 2020, there is no evidence that this was ever a problem. Since 2010, Goose Ledge Road has been developed and several other year-round homes have been built in the area, all placing an additional demand on groundwater resources. Before additional development is approved, we feel strongly that the town must hire a qualified hydrogeologist to assess the aquifer, including projections about how the installation of impervious surfaces will impact groundwater and the health of the adjacent floodplain forest.

Developers should be aware that drinking water resources may be a problem at this site.

Should the aquifer prove to be robust enough to support development, our preference is to work with whomever procures the land and building at Ash Point Road to develop it well, with consideration of the character of its rural location and carrying capacity of the aquifer. We are hoping that the eventual owner will partner with the community to create something sustainable and well integrated.

We realize this is a situation where a balance between community concerns and economic profit may be difficult to achieve. Increasingly, Maine communities are facing threats to natural resources and preservation of the unique character of our towns. In the past 50 years, throughout New England, many small farming and fishing communities have been homogenized into suburbs and bedroom towns, with little regard for the character of place and the natural resources that support it. We believe we can do better than that and prefer to work together to make that happen.

In this regard, we ask HCA and its board of directors to support us in our request to steward this land well. Please be vocal at the auction and in any interaction you may have with the buyer about the community’s desire to work together to develop this land sustainably. This neighborhood has supported you in your endeavors here and we’re asking you to help us with this transition that we, as a community, will live with in perpetuity.

We ask Keenan Auction Co. to take the risk of telling potential bidders the same. We understand that this in no way ensures that the buyer will respond to our requests, but as a Maine company who profits from the culture that small Maine towns create, please help us to preserve that.

We ask that the buyer remain open-minded and talk with the community about development plans. Please do due diligence in assessing the natural resource base before exploiting it without a projection of potential consequences. Please work with us and let us work with you to create something we can all take pride in.

We ask that the town of Harpswell come to a clear understanding of what we stand to lose by allowing development to continue largely unchecked. Assess the town aquifers. Once they’re overdrawn, there is no backup. Expedite the completion of the Comprehensive Plan revisions pertaining to groundwater resources or put a pause on decisions around major development until the data is complete and clear about how best to proceed.

In a world where opposition has become the norm, it’s time to learn how to create alliances that allow us to move forward.


Kara Douglas

Craig Douglas

LeAnne Grillo

Howard Marshall

Elizabeth Davis

Susan Lowery

John Loyd

Susan Loyd

William McLin

Sam MacKeon

Nellie Clifford

Gail Kass

Susan Horowitz

Miranda Henning

Peg Newberg

Matt Newberg

Brooke Newberg

Lou Brown

William Todd

Erin O’Mara

Roger Aschbrenner

Ann Flannery

Mary K. Brennan

George Simonson

James A. Kneebone

Mary Ann Nahf

Hannah Beattie

Bart Beattie

J. Catherine Wnek

Catharine Sanderson

Johanna Wigg

Judy Muller

Bob Muller

Linda Hall

Bruce MacDougal

Gary Downes

Wendy Downes

Rachel Rodrigues

Amanda King

John Novembri

Karen Tcheyan

Paul Avis

Jane Almeida

Kimberly Haynes

Jennifer Zagriello

Michael Zagriello

Patti Neuhof

Joe Neuhof

Denise Murtha

Michael Murtha

Gisela Estes

Robert C. Porter

Stacia Chapman

Kristin Silady

Marshall Shepherd

Amber Shepherd

Jim Burnett

Alan Blum

Peg Orlando

Lisa Burke

Patricia McGovern

Connie Sage Conner

Philip Conner

Greg Bestick

Chris Tomasino

Lynette Bretton

Martin Haines

Shayla Haines

Christopher Wnek

Robin Casey

Lou Kimball

Barbara Tsonis

Douglas Gardiner

Leslie Klein

Joanne B. O’Donnell

Kara Sprague

Tom Neal

Katie Neal

Susan Pearson

Tina Milner

Nils Tcheyan

Yves Van Damme

Paul Wanrooij

Brownie Carson

Tom Himes

Michelle Himes

Alan Sawyer

Cynthia Sawyer

Karen Garside

William Garside

Lili Ott

John Ott

Sarah Moulton

Barbara Crommett

Barry Crommett

Ann Liota

Sandra Paul

Sally Hammond

Kate Wilcox

Lynn Knight

Lynne McGhee

Susan Carlson

Sharon Whitney

Liz Stamey

Bill Stamey

Cynthia Friend