Letter to the editor: Fort Williams Park Foundation pays its own way

This past week, the Portland Press Herald printed an article about Cape Elizabeth’s plans to hire a manager for Fort Williams Park. The article included inaccurate information about the Fort Williams Park Foundation, implying that the work of the foundation adds to the workload of park maintenance staff.

Reading this reminded me once again that the roles of the various stakeholders in the park are not well understood. As president of the Fort Williams Park Foundation, I’d like to outline our role.

The foundation is an independent, 501(c)(3) organization that raises money for projects within the park. We take responsibility for maintenance of all our projects, working hard to ensure that the landscapes we create do not add to the workload of maintenance staff. Our current focus is on controlling invasive plant species.

With privately raised funds and hundreds of volunteer hours, we are able to significantly supplement the park maintenance allowed by a tight, publicly funded budget, while increasing the quality of the visitor experience. All of our projects must be approved by the Town Council. Our ability to maintain the landscapes we create is an important factor in securing their support.

The work of the foundation has a positive impact not only on our town, but also on much of southern Maine and beyond. Cape Elizabeth is not the only governmental organization challenged by the arrival of invasive plants, insects and other species. The foundation coordinates and collaborates with other organizations to bring best management practices to the park as well as to share what we are learning with others.

In all ways, we want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Lynn Shaffer

president, Fort Williams Park Foundation

Cape Elizabeth

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