B.R.A.G. seeks $100,000 to fence fields

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer

The Bridgton Recreation Advancement Group asked the Board of Selectmen Tuesday to contribute another $100,000 from the Moose Pond Trust Fund to fence the sports fields complex they are building on BRAG Way off Route 302.

The money would also be used to construct a playground and basketball courts at the complex, which will deliver “at least twice as many facilities” as

SPORTING A BIG VISION — The updated site plan for the Bridgton Community Recreation Complex delivers at least twice as many facilities as originally envisioned, with seven fields including a large rectangular field that can be converted into four youth soccer fields. The Cal Ripken/Little League fields (3 & 4) have been designed for New England regional games, and the complex also includes basketball, tennis and bocce courts and a fenced-in playground.

originally envisioned, said B.R.A.G. President Bill Macdonald.

“We fully expect to deliver more fields than agreed upon, roughly two to three years early,” thanks to the over $426,000 that has been invested in the complex to date, Macdonald said. The complex will include two Cal Ripken/Little League size fields, one softball field, one full-size Babe Ruth field, two full-size rectangular fields that an be converted into at least four youth soccer fields, a large concession area, half-mile walking/jogging path, fenced-in playground, and basketball, tennis and bocce courts.

“Upon completion, this will truly be an amazing asset to the town of Bridgton and all who will use the facility,” he wrote to the board. Macdonald said the fields will be grassed as of this fall, but won’t be able to be played on until the spring of 2012.

The town will release the final payment of $225,000 pledged from the trust fund in July, and the additional $100,000 will allow the fencing needed to protect the investment, which is expected to need another $450,000-$500,000 to complete. Voters decided to take over ownership of the complex property.

Macdonald said the Cal Ripken fields will be designed larger to be able to host New England regional games, which will “bring in teams from all over New England” and “hopefully bring in new business” to Bridgton.

Selectmen Woody Woodward asked if the fields were going to be lit, and Macdonald said that was indeed the plan. “The fields have been leveled, and we’re ready to start screening and spreading loam.” The group has also received $50,000 from the Ham Foundation and raised $40,000 in individual donations.

The group needs to provide around 2,800 linear feet of four-foot high chain link fencing along the non-wooded sides of the complex, along BRAG Way and both side that are parallel to Route 302. They also need to fence in the retention ponds, for both security and safety concerns, and need around 700 linear feet of six-foot high chain link fencing for that, along with security access gates. The estimated cost for the fencing is $70,000, while the remaining $30,000 would be used to construct the playground and basketball courts.

The board agreed to put the request on their next agenda for consideration.

Dangerous building

The board warned David Lyons, owner of a house at 148 North High Street destroyed by fire on Sept. 16, 2009, that he has run out of time to make repairs under the town’s Dangerous Building ordinance, which gives selectmen the right to dispose of properties deemed unsafe to public safety. Family members appeared before the board to explain that they are in litigation with the insurance company over cancellation of the policy protecting the property, and they need time to see if they can win the case. But, as Art Triglione explained to them, “As municipal officers, we have to keep things moving as fast as we can” to protect someone from getting hurt, should they enter the property. Lyons’ brother said the family would post no trespassing signs. The board directed the family to meet with Code Enforcement Officer Robbie Baker on a monthy basis until the dispute is resolved to ensure that steps are being taken to keep people away from the property.

Hot dog cart approved

The board gave a one-year license to Linda Hamilton and Fred Perry to operate a hot dog cart at Highland Lake Beach during summer months. The cart will use propane for heating, not a generator as was used by a previous vendor, which generated some noise complaints. The cart will be removed each night and the couple said they’ll place the cart at the first parking area on the left by the covered picnic tables so as not to disturb traffic or boat launching activities. Berkowitz said the board would need to review the license after a year because the town might get more vending requests and have to map out locations.

Budget Advisory Committee

Bernie King of the Budget Advisory Committee said he and Skip Sullivan, Beverly Martin, Dan Nowell and Ray Turner met nine times since December and came up with the following recommendations, that:

• The fees for the planning department, such as building permits, be doubled to make the department more self-sufficient;

• The fire department inspection costs be raised from $5 to $25;

• The amount for annual fireworks be increased from $1,000 to $3,250;

• In capital improvements, the cost for a public works Jeep be decreased from $25,000 to $20,000; the town hall reserve reduced from $50,000 to $10,000; and a HotBox Roller be reduced from $50,000 to $25,000.

King also said his committee feels more revenue should be generated at the transfer station to offset demolition tipping fees, possibly by imposing a $20 annual fee on taxpayers of improved property as a charge for the stickers. The committee also discovered a $16,226 error due to a line-item duplication.

Later in the meeting, the board agreed to start their own budget review, beginning with their first budget workshop next Monday, March 28, at 6 p.m., with an additional meeting on March 29 if necessary. Berkowitz said one new issue that will need discussion is how the town will handle a request by LRTV for a funding increase from $40,000 to $43,000. Triglione also noted that the board “needs to strongly think about” how to deal with the fact that the current budget is $800,000 over the LD1 state limit. Also, a big question mark will be the dispatching account, since voters will decide at town meeting whether to eliminate the dispatching department and use Cumberland County Communications Center instead. “We may have to go into town meeting bloated and reduce it on the floor, based on the vote,” Berkowitz said.

Moose Pond Watershed Survey

Heather True of the Cumberland County Soil & Water District reported that the final report is complete on work done by her office, Lakes Environmental Association and Moose Pond Association in surveying potential erosion sites around the lake, which has a drainage area of 11,170 acres. Water quality in the lake has degraded in recent years, prompting the survey.

True said of 208 sites identified, mostly along roadways, 23 were rated as having a high impact to water quality. “It’s kind of good that there aren’t that many high impact sites, but it’s the cumulative effect of all these (soil erosion) sites” that cause concern, she said. Two of the high impact sites are areas of boat access, and True mentioned in particular the canoe access on the causeway as needing remediation. The soil and water district will be applying for grant funding to help landowners, road associations and towns to correct the problems, and Berkowitz said he would meet with Public Works Director Jim Kidder to go over ways the town can help support remediation efforts along roadways. A copy of the report will be available at the town office and Bridgton Library, and can also be obtained by calling True at 892-4700.

Manager’s Report

Berkowitz reported that Cumberland County government is planning a fly-over in the near future to develop new high-resolution aerial maps using orthoimagery, which permits two-foot resolutions and can be layered for growth, mapped for fire hydrants, wetlands, soil types and other uses. Once in place, the maps would be linked to the town’s website for public access. He will be preparing a letter of support from the town for the effort.

Bridgton can do better in terms of recycling, Berkowitz said, and must do better if it wants to realize considerable savings in tipping fees. Bridgton recycled 625 tons during 2010, a number close to prior years, and has a 25% recycling rate before adding in metals, demolition debris and the like. Anything not recycled that can be goes into the $88 per ton tipping fee plus hauling fee the town must pay to ecomaine. “That’s hard cash we can save, but only with our citizen’s help.”

Bridgton will likely see a drop in its annual allotment of Community Development Block Grant funding from its current $240,000 to $192,600 during the next round of appropriations, Berkowitz also reported. The fund pays for the economic development office.

Voters in June will be asked to take over ownership of Pondicherry Park’s 62 acres under a draft agreement being drawn up by LEA and Loon Echo Land Trust. Berkowitz said if voters agree to own the park, the town will need to develop a maintenance and operations program, relying mostly on volunteers through a park committee that is being recommended. The committee would be in charge of trail supervision and maintenance.

Berkowitz also reported on Bridgton Hospital’s recent ecomaine award for recycling and environmental excellence, citing such improvements as elimination of Styrofoam cups, use of digital x-rays instead of x-ray film, reprocessing of items at ASCENT to save $10,000 a year, a “Connect Shuttle” program to provide patient transportation to Central Maine Medical Center and an electrical harvesting system in the lobby to reduce electricity consumption during the day.

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