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Houlton couple wants trail reopened to vehicles to allow additional home access

HOULTON, Maine — The owners of a home located near a town-owned walking trail that runs through Riverfront Park appeared before the Town Council on Tuesday evening to ask it to re-open a portion of the trail to vehicles to give them additional access to their property.

Mo and Charlotte Sprague own a home just off Lincoln Street that is accessible only through a steep driveway off that road or through a town-owned portion of a groomed fitness trail in Riverfront Park.

The home is unoccupied at this point, but Mo Sprague said there is a possibility that someone could occupy it in the future or that they could sell the property. The Spragues said that the steep driveway is difficult for them to use in the winter, and it is not feasible for fuel deliveries and other access. They also said that they wanted to clear up access issues before selling the house.

This past summer, the town opted to cable off a portion of the town-owned walking trail to prohibit motor vehicle use at the recommendation of former Police Chief Joe McKenna.

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McKenna said that it should be closed off because of safety concerns, as it is close to a children’s playground and the trail is used frequently by walkers and runners. It is still open for emergency vehicle access.

But that also cut off one of the two routes the couple and others had been using to get to the home, Mo Sprague told the council.

“We would like access [through the walking trail] in the winter to get down there,” said Sprague, adding that a sanitation driver had recently tried to use the Lincoln Street driveway and said that he would not in the future. “The driver got really shook up. He told us that it isn’t a road for trucks.”

Sprague also told the council that the family had always been welcoming in the past about allowing people to access their property. The town’s walking trail continues to a set of stairs that come out on Highland Avenue, but at times people have bypassed the steps and instead continued on and climbed up the Sprague’s driveway. He also said that people have cross-country skied on their property and they’ve “had no issues with it.”

“If you work with us a little bit, we will work with you,” said Sprague.

Town attorney Dan Nelson will be reviewing the property records with the couple and will come back to the council to discuss the issue further at a future meeting.


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