Hidden Pond Trysts and Twists with Kennebunkport Conservation Trust

30 May

Hidden Pond is having a gala.  And a showcase.  And a luncheon.  Invitations have littered the mail from one end of Kennebunkport to the other.  But while the Maine Democratic Party finds The Hangover worthy of an invitation to their signature event, Hidden Pond does not.  Unlike many of our neighbors, we did not receive an invite to the aforementioned events.  We are not surprised by the slight.

It was a shock, however, to find that the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust is one of the sponsors of the upcoming festivities. What could a conservation group have in common with developers who are turning 60 acres of woodland into a super fabulous motel?  Apparently, money.  The KCT is one of three listed sponsors that will benefit from the $150 per person Preview Gala, the $40 per person Luncheon with the Designers, and the Decorator Showcase, in which you can walk the grounds of Hidden Pond for only $20.

(If you are budget conscious, feel free to stop by Hangover Headquarters where you can play wiffle ball in the backyard and throw a rock in our hidden swamp for the low, low price of 39 cents.  And while the Decorator Showcase is not handicapped accessible, our thin and well-trodden lawn is.)

It’s great that Hidden Pond is taking care of local non-profits.  For the Child Abuse Council of York County and The River Tree Center for the Arts, it’s a no-brainer to hook up with the “Tree and Brie” milieu of Hidden Pond.  Of course, there’s a benefit for Hidden Pond, too.   In an attempt to appear warm and fuzzy to consumers, corporations regularly align themselves with charities and non-profits.  “It’s become compulsory because it’s how corporate citizenship is now defined,” said Douglas Quintal, Professor of Marketing Communication at Emerson College.  Quintal added:  “The ones that make sure their contributions are known are usually the ones doing it as a fashion show.”  Yes, those charities are prominently displayed on invitations and the HP web site:  Hidden Pond would like potential customers to feel good about their impending conspicuous consumption.

Then there’s the matter of the conservation group partnering with the developer.  (A developer whose project is far different than their original proposal and one who has exploited every opportunity provided by state loopholes and a poorly written land use ordinance.)  The Trust-HP connection raises questions about an environmental entity that wants to maintain its integrity. 

The Kennebunkport Conservation Trust is “dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of our town” and “to protect the landscape and character of the town we all love.”  The Trust’s mission as advocated by Executive Director Tom Bradbury is to find places special to all and set them aside for all to enjoy.  They’ve done a great job of it over the past 30 years, preserving 1604 acres.  But by attaching its sponsorship to these Hidden Pond events (and providing them with the KCT mailing list), the Trust places itself in an awkward position.  The mutually marketed sponsorship gives the impression that the KCT supports the Hidden Pond development, a concept which would seem at odds with the Trust’s goals. 

Upon raising this issue to Bradbury, he noted that the Trust is not against development, but for protection.  The Hidden Pond land had already been purchased and the project was a done deal when the KCT became involved.  In the Trust’s view, they are trying to take a practical, positive approach and do what they can to benefit their cause.  They will receive funds with which they hope to keep their children’s educational program active for several years.  As the Hangover Children will benefit  from that program, one would think The Hangover would be happy about how this is playing out.  However, that the Trust even appears compromised by the deep pockets of Hidden Pond makes these machinations sting like a shot of cheap tequila. 

The pursuit of the Trust’s goals is a noble undertaking.  And perhaps the KCT-Hidden Pond tryst will be one of those rare cases where the ends will justify the means.  Nevertheless, another picture can be drawn, too.  When the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust’s name is printed beside that of Hidden Pond, no matter what the practical applications and windfalls, it functions as a stamp of approval on the development and this developer.  While The Hangover contends that “statement” is something the Trust should have avoided, Bradbury sees the partnering as “not an endorsement of this development but a working reality.”  And he may be correct.  

Reality bites again. 




7 Responses to “Hidden Pond Trysts and Twists with Kennebunkport Conservation Trust”

  1. aaron, of course May 30, 2008 at 11:25 am #

    You mean there’s more to Maine than Ogunquit and York Beach?!?

    And did you say wiffle ball?!? SAWEET!!!

  2. Sir Martin Wagstaff May 30, 2008 at 8:55 pm #

    In the words of Deep Throat, “follow the money.” The Hangover needs to launch an inquiry of Hidden Pond beginning with the CEO’s office at town hall. That this project — initially sold as a mobile home park — was greenlit in the first place warrants nothing less than some serious investigative journalism.

  3. Chilly Nate May 31, 2008 at 6:01 am #

    Bogus at best.
    Did I tell you that a few months ago I was approached to place an ad in some brochure that supported HP? I actually knew the salesperson, but had no idea where the mobile home park was actually going to be. (I’m not good with directions-I recently got lost in my own subdivision for three days). At the time I felt obligated to help the ad salesperson so I signed on. Since then I became aware of the projects proximity to my families very close friends, The Hangovers, not to mention their unsettled displeasure (I would be to) so I obviously backed out of the ad deal.

  4. Chilly Nate May 31, 2008 at 7:07 am #

    Don’t forget “Family Discovery Days”!
    A weekend full of adventures and activities for children. This event is also organized by the KCT. Even the kidos get charged to enjoy the woodlands and nature trails at Hidden Pond. $5.00 per child for three hours. I thought that the KCT would at least use some of those funds that they are receiving to host a free event for the kids!
    -Chilly Nate’s better half-

  5. Sir Martin Wagstaff June 5, 2008 at 6:54 am #

    K’port town offices: (207) 967-0402…. ask for Brian Shaw. That’s where the money trail ends.

  6. Debenhams Promotional Code June 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    I need to to thank you for this great read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it.
    I have got you book marked to look at new stuff you post…


  1. Hidden Pond Gala A Success? « The Hangover - June 30, 2008

    […] life here has returned to normal.  Money was raised for some charities (one of which got to compromise its good name as a bonus).  No permanent harm was done.   Expansion will come to Hidden Pond next year and […]

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