Chair: Jill Malony – email@example.com – (207) 846-9613
On July 1, 2007 the Town of Chebeague Island became the newest town in Maine when it seceded from mainland Cumberland. Located in Casco Bay off Portland, the Town is comprised of seventeen islands and their adjacent waters. Great Chebeague, the largest island in the town, has a long history of habitation ranging from thousands of years of contact with Native Americans to several centuries of settlement by folks descended from the early New England settlers.
While many of the islands have hosted year-round settlements, Great Chebeague and Hope are currently the only islands inhabited year-round. Since settlement, Great Chebeague has continually transformed itself from a subsistent agrarian economy to a multifaceted marine economy based on marine construction, fishing, and farming. Because of the stability of the economy, islanders resisted entering into the tourist industry. Tourist infrastructure was well established on neighboring islands when Great Chebeague’s economy declined in the 1890s and building hotels and selling off farms for cottage lots, coupled with an increased reliance on fishing, seemed to be the only options to sustain the community. Today the island’s economy includes maritime endeavors, on island work, and off island employment.
While Chebeague was part of Cumberland, the island became an assets based community. Innovation and ingenuity resulted in an island infrastructure which includes a school, fire and rescue departments, library, recreation center, assisted living facility, day care, community hall, church, historical society and all of the various institutions necessary to sustain a small Maine town, including its own internet provider, Chebeague.net!
Today, Chebeague is an active community comprised of folks with deep emotional connections to the island, who are committed to working to sustain the viability of their island community. While many islanders are descended from the earliest settlers, the ancestors of a significant number of Chebeaguers arrived on the island as rusticators. The summer natives, as they are called, whether year-round or summer, are deeply committed to the community. Chebeaguers welcome new year-round and summer residents who appreciate the way of life that has evolved over the past 250 years.