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The Roberts Trap is Sprung

By:  Bill Dunne
One of the most overlooked aspects of the year just ended is the vindication of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a vindication that showed up as the national catastrophe known as ObamaCare got rolling.  Roberts may have also doomed Hillary Clinton's chance to live in the White House again... click here to read whole editorial


Town Stays Silent on Kipp Park Road


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, April 29, 2015



The Old Reed Road at Monson Pond was abandoned by the town of Fort Fairfield in 1969.  Pictured here is the “Moonlight Drive” section of the Old Reed Road that appears to terminate in a Dead End when in reality, the private right of way still continues to exist on a plot of land being used for private use, that would connect to the other half of Old Reed Road—now called Kipp Park Drive on the boat landing side of the obstruction.  The town of Fort Fairfield has opted to take no position on this private drive.  Vantage point is from the star («)in the map at the bottom of this page.  photo & map/David Deschesne


   Some of the people living at Munson Pond have asked the Town of Fort Fairfield to take a stance on Kipp Park Road and whether to reestablish the roadway beyond Kipp Park into Moonlight Drive - as it existed originally before the town abandoned the road in 1969.. 

   “To say that there was a lot of surveying that was left up to personal interpretation would be an understatement, I think,” said Fort Fairfield Town Manager, Mike Bosse.  “Things were done differently back in the day when that area was being developed.” 

   Bosse told the town council that some people have offered wordings for proclamations for the town to consider.  “I've taken all that under advisement and passed it on for interpretation to the legal department at Maine Municipal Association.  I received the last iteration of a recommendation from Bill Livingood.  Bill has basically told the town to do nothing.  That is based on a couple of laws that he cited; one is that the connection between Kipp Park road and Moonlight Drive was abandoned more than thirty years ago.  He said since it's been more than thirty years since the town abandoned it it has no obligation to maintain it or put a roadway in there. 

He said, in short, that he recommends that the town not take any position on this issue without a full understanding of the status of the property.  If we did take a position we may be infringing upon some of the property rights within the titles of the property owners.  Consequently he said we have no obligation to do anything, so do nothing.”

  The crux of the issue is whether or not Kipp Park Road and Moonlight Drive are town-owned, or private roads.  In 1969 what was then Reed Road was abandoned by the town and a new Reed Road built starting on the back side of the Fish & Game Club to bypass the road that served the camps on the pond’s shoreline.  Decades later, a section of the former Reed Road had been allowed to overgrow with trees and weeds and be assimilated into private property use, but a private right-of-way still remained on the road for ingress and egress of the camp and house owners who live there.  The two sections of Reed Road were then renamed.  Kipp Park Road became the section of Reed Road from the dam to the boat landing on Monson Pond, while Moonlight Drive was the other end, past the overgrown area to what is now the home of Larry and Nancy Grant.

   “No one is sure what is owned or what is a right of way. It is my understanding that a right of way was granted for owners of adjacent property owners and to the town,” Bosse told the Fort Fairfield Journal.   “In 1971 there are minutes at a selectman’s meeting that allows the fish and game club to block the road for safety reasons. It is my understanding and I certainly could be proved wrong, the town does not own the road but simply has a right to use the right of way. Hence my recommendation to do nothing until we have an opportunity to research the Town Meeting Minutes from the 1950’s,60’s and 70’s.”

   The road was abandoned in the early 70’s and it has been suggested that a person close by would like to exercise the right of way. “The town has no issue one way or the other, what we have issue with is the maintaining of a roadway that will cause safety issues for children playing in the park and also that there really isn’t a road there any longer. A new road would have to be constructed,” said Bosse. “The town has no interest, intent, desire or obligation to construct or maintain a road or the right of way, that was abandoned over 30 years ago. When we reviewed the issue with Maine Municipal Association they stated in one of their e-mails, ‘In the event the road was once a town way and now may be deemed discontinued by abandonment, effective 30 years after some date in the 1960’s, a public easement may remain. See 23 MRSA Section 3028(1) and 23 MRSA Section 3026(1)...... Also, although the town certainly is concerned about the safety and security of its citizens, you should understand that even if a public easement exists over the area in question, the town has no legal duty to maintain a way that may be reasonably presumed to be discontinued by abandonment, nor does it have any legal liability under the Maine Tort Claims Act to maintain unimproved land, or land used primarily by the public in connection with public outdoor recreation. (See 23 MRSA Section 3028(1) and 14 MRSA Section 8104(2).)’”

   Bosse said town office staff could research, as time permits, the minutes of town meetings of that era to determine what exactly had transpired at the time the roadway was abandoned.  Back then Fort Fairfield was not run by a town council, it was run by a town meeting and selectmen.  For the town to accept that roadway or right-of-way they would have had to have done it in an annual town meeting by a vote of the general public. 

   Bosse will advise the town council in a public forum what the office staff was able to glean from the minutes of those meetings relevant to Kipp Park Road and Moonlight Drive.  



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