A Profile of Mike Helfgott 2017
By Ed Robinson
Mike and his wife Bobbie bought a second home on Bailey Island nearly 25 years ago. Little did they know that Mike would end up a leader in one of the most visible conservation issues Harpswell has seen for many years. After Mike’s retirement from public life in Connecticut, Bailey Island became their home, just as public access to Cedar Beach became a hot topic.
With a background in fundraising, and an interest in protecting traditional ways of life, Mike stepped forward when the Cedar Beach/Cedar Island (CB/CIS) group came together in 2011. Admitting that he had no idea about the issues around beaches in Maine, Mike was motivated to preserve access to a spot that some of his neighbors had enjoyed for decades. One woman in her 80s put the hook in Mike by showing him a photo of herself as a little girl on the beach, saying “We’ve lost too many beaches, let’s not lose another.”
Mike is quick to note that many people played a role in the project that wound its way through the court system in Maine, and has now been resolved by an agreement between the Town and the owner of Cedar Beach Road. Board members of CB/CIS, donors, neighbors and friends all came together over the years, blurring the lines between long time locals and those “from away.” In fact Mike states that one of his biggest satisfactions has been a feeling that he and his family are now well accepted in a town they love so deeply.
The Helfgotts first got involved with HHLT in 2002 during the community-wide campaign to preserve Johnson Field at Mackerel Cove and Skolfield Shores Preserve. Mike considers the Land Trust a key player in striking a balance between controlled development and protecting the scenic beauty that makes Harpswell a special place for all. His fond hope is that our community can now live together in peace to enjoy the great natural treasures in our town.