Out of a tragic night more than 25 years ago, the people of Yarmouth, Maine, worked to create a bike and pedestrian “pathway with a purpose.” A recent planned gift from the estate of Carl Condon has ensured that meaningful legacy will continue, and likely grow, for generations to come.
The Beth Condon Pathway, a 2-mile segment of the East Coast Greenway’s spine route, opened in 1996 as a memorial to Carl’s daughter, Beth Condon, who was tragically struck and killed at age 15 by a drunk driver while walking along U.S. Route 1 on Aug. 28, 1993.
In the months following Beth’s death, Yarmouth residents took an in-depth look at pedestrian and bicycle safety. As part of this effort, her classmates at Yarmouth High School completed an inventory of the town’s walkways. In March 1994, “the idea for a memorial pathway to prevent similar tragedies took shape,” as the local newspaper The Forecaster recounts.
The Maine Department of Transportation funded much of the cost of the initial phase of the pathway, with a grassroots fund-raising campaign helping to cover the town’s portion. In the years since, the pathway has been lengthened in multiple phases.
“Beth's death was the beginning of Yarmouth's commitment to creating a safe, walkable town for children, seniors, families, pedestrians, and cyclists,” said Sue Ellen Bordwell, member of the Yarmouth Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee and former chair of the East Coast Greenway Maine State Committee. Ensuring safety for people of all ages was the priority. “For many years Beth's grandmother could be seen on her daily walk along the pathway.”
Today, the Beth Condon Pathway traverses Yarmouth and is primarily used by locals for safe transportation to and from local business and bus stops. If heading north, cyclists, runners and walkers can pick up the pathway at Portland Street and cross Main Street and the Royal River before ending north of town near the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and Spring Street.
And now the pathway is poised for future growth. In his estate, Carl Condon, who died in October 2018, left $500,000 to the Town of Yarmouth for “improvements and expansion of the Beth Condon Pathway.”
“This is pretty special to have someone make sure no other tragedy occurs,” says Yarmouth Town Manager Nat Tupper.
According to Tupper, the Beth Condon Pathway bequest could help fund several planned linkages for the trail with the aim of eventually connecting the Yarmouth region north to Freeport via protected greenways. In many instances, towns partner with Maine DOT on pathway improvements. Carl’s gift could potentially fund Yarmouth’s local match for a number of projects that might not otherwise move forward without this funding.
The benefits are many for municipalities like Yarmouth investing in trail enhancements. Adds Tupper, “We see economic benefit from the direction we’re going.”
“Investment in greenways provides local municipalities measurable public health, safety, environmental and economic benefits,” says Kristine Keeney, the Greenway’s New England Coordinator. “The importance of trails like Beth Condon Pathway to residents and visitors cannot be emphasized enough.”
Having experienced the tragic loss of his daughter, Carl Condon found a constructive way to honor her legacy while ensuring safer miles for biking and walking for local residents and East Coast Greenway travelers for generations to come.
If you are interested in discussing a legacy gift to the East Coast Greenway Alliance, contact Development Manager Debbie West, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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