Lobster buoys decorate the branches of a fallen tree on the beach at Preble Cove on Great Cranberry Island. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Deal assures cove access

CRANBERRY ISLES — A guarantee of public access to Preble Cove on Great Cranberry Island and financial support for efforts to provide affordable housing on Great Cranberry and Islesford are part of an agreement between Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) and Cranberry Isles Realty Trust (CIRT).

Preble Cove, on the west side of the island, has always been accessible via a narrow trail from the island’s main road. But the trail ran through private property, so permanent public access wasn’t a given.

MCHT discovered that when Holly Hartley donated a 1.7-acre parcel on Preble Cove to the organization as a public preserve in 2016. MCHT contacted the neighboring landowners, CIRT and the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society, to seek a solution.

That solution was found in a bequest by Great Cranberry resident Bruce Komusin, a founding CIRT board member, who died in 2015. He left about 12 acres of woodlands with a house in the Preble Cove area to CIRT, along with about two acres of shorefront property and adjacent wetland.

“We have taken that beach area and some marsh land that is right behind it and placed it into a conservation easement with MCHT,” said CIRT President Phil Whitney.

This summer, a MCHT crew built a “bog bridge” over an especially low, wet area to improve access to the shore.

As for the 12 wooded acres and house that Komusin left to CIRT, Whitney said, “We will be studying those properties this fall to see what we want to do with them.”

As part of the Preble Cove land partnership agreement, MCHT is giving CIRT $50,000, earmarked for affordable housing programs.

“That is partly in exchange for the conservation easement they gave us, which provides guaranteed public access along the trail,” said Bob Deforrest, land project manager with MCHT. “It gives us the right but not the obligation to maintain that trail. It also provides a buffer to the shore from any future development.”

Deforrest said the donation was a way his group could help out with affordable housing “and provide some buffer to an existing preserve and public access for the community.”

Whitney said of the MCHT donation, “We’ll try to use that money and possibly other money we might be able to generate from the [former Komusin] house or other properties and see what opportunities might develop for affordable housing.”

Founded in 1996, CIRT is a nonprofit organization that strives to provide affordable housing for people wishing to live year-round on Islesford or Great Cranberry.


Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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