Arborist paints clearer picture of Pondicherry Park trees’ condition

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Walking through Pondicherry Park, one might wonder if there is a new trail marker system in place.

Trees are spotted — red, orange, yellow and white.

These paint marks actually are codes referring to the trees’ present condition. Q-Team of Naples recently evaluated trees in Bridgton’s intown park, and has been contracted ($15,000) to cut down those trees that pose a risk to the hiking public.

First to go will be those trees marked with red paint.

Red means “trees pose a hazard and should be removed.”

Orange means “trees are dead or dying and could be dangerous.”

Yellow means “trees are starting to show signs of decay or dying and should be watched for future removal.”

And white means “trees have dead limbs over the walking trails and should be pruned for safety.”

Along seven trails, there were 374 trees marked with red paint; 196 receiving an orange grade; 31 yellow; and 123 white.

Selectman Bear Zaidman saw how trees were cut and left along the trail to “start the rotting process.” Zaidman asked whether the town should consider spending a little more money and have the big limbs cut and laid down.

Town Manager Bob Peabody noted that Q-Team could approach cutting and pruning in two ways — one, trimming by hand and climbing up trees to make cuts, which would drive the price up; or two, utilize small equipment. Officials plan to discuss the tree assessment report, as well as pruning/cutting options with the Pondicherry Park Steering Committee at the group’s next meeting.

In other selectmen meeting notes:

Lions and a circus. Bob McHatton pitched the idea that the Bridgton Lions Club look into making arrangements to bring the Zerbini Family Circus to town. Lions liked the idea, and discussions are underway with the circus group to perform July 21-24. Stay tuned.

Gift to employees. With Christmas on Tuesday this year, Peabody asked selectmen what their pleasure was in regards to the “day before” — having town employees work the day, work half a day or be given the day off? Back in 2015, selectmen allowed town employees to leave work at noon on Dec. 24.

“We realize this is not something we negotiated in our contract or have ever received before. We appreciate the gift…” wrote Gary Arris, then steward for the Public Works Department/Town of Bridgton Public Work employees.

Again, there is no provision in town contracts regarding to this matter.

“There are no expectations,” Peabody told selectmen. “I am simply bringing this to your attention.”

“It’s Christmas, people should be with their families,” said Eastman, supporting the idea of a half day.

“My name isn’t Ebenezer,” Selectman Fred Packard added.

Selectman Bear Zaidman wondered if a snowstorm occurred whether workers would then be paid a holiday overtime rate? Peabody said no.

Officials planned to review the request more closely, and render a decision at their next meeting, set for this Tuesday, Nov. 27.

What we’re about. Opportunity Alliance has been busy with several ventures in Bridgton, but does the public and selectmen really know the group? Mike Tarpinian, along with Jana Richards and Serena Bissonnette, tried to paint a clearer picture.

Opportunity Alliance is what used to be PROP. The name change occurred in 2011. Tarpinian noted that this past year, 810 Bridgton residents took advantage of 11 of the group’s 46 programs. Programs include Head Start and fuel assistance. Richards pointed out that OA has also teamed up with other groups to air special movies and hold forums and guest speakers on issues such as mental health, substance abuse, decision-making and community engagement. OA has engaged community members to network and discuss concerns regarding healthcare access and housing.

In closing, Tarpinian noted that Tom Smith had served on the OA Board, representing Bridgton. With Smith leaving the board, Tarpinian would like to see selectmen find someone to represent the town.

Crossing the road. Trying to leave the Bridgton Hospital grounds and reach the sidewalk on South High Street can be an unsafe experience, a couple told Selectman Carmen Lone.

To help slow traffic and help elderly and handicapped individuals, Lone questioned whether a crosswalk could be installed. Public Works Director Jim Kidder noted that South High Street is a state road, and secondly pointed out that, in most cases, the state likes a crosswalk to extend from one sidewalk to another. One possibility would be to create a sidewalk that runs from the edge of Hospital Drive along the front side of Dr. Doyle’s old medical office (presently used by a counselor). The crosswalk then could extend from that sidewalk across the street to the existing sidewalk in front of Bridgton Chiropractic Wellness Center.

Kidder will talk with the state engineer.

Wandering livestock. Selectmen expressed concern regarding a continuing problem of livestock roaming on Fosterville Road (Route 107) in South Bridgton, creating a hazard to traffic (Chairman Lee Eastman saw cattle in the roadway one day) and a nuisance to other property owners.

Peabody says there is an “ongoing investigation” involving state officials. Police Chief Rick Stillman says the town’s new animal control officer, Carl Hoskins, has been working to insure the animals on Fosterville Road stay on their owner’s property and she has proper licensing for them.

“It has been an ongoing problem with animals getting loose, and the owner likes to use the church parking lot to load and unload animals. She has been trespassed from the church property,” Chief Stillman noted.

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