Bridgton Selectmen: Does more wastewater disposal capacity exist?

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Business growth in Bridgton has slowed to a trickle in recent years due to limitations of an aging and near capacity wastewater system.

Voter approval in November of a nearly $23 million system will significantly change the town’s growth potential.

But, will new business ventures need to wait two to three years until the project is completed?

Maybe not.

There may be more capacity in the two existing wastewater disposal areas than officials thought.

After reviewing historical information available on the license conditions and capacity of the Dodge Field (Wayside Avenue) and Lower Ball Field (Junior Harmon Field), the town is seeking a change in its licensed capacity.

Brent Bridges, senior principal for Woodard & Curran (which is the engineering firm the town has hired to oversee the new wastewater system development), presented technical information regarding design capacity, flow and the effect of the town’s installation of a pretreatment system.

The bottom line, Bridges noted, is that the Dodge Field’s loading rate and capacity “is appropriate based on the soils, hydraulic loading and the strength of waste due to the Oxypro pretreatment system performance.” Bridges said data puts the town in line to seek a 10% increase in allowable capacity there, which means the remaining equivalent user figure for this disposal area jumps from 1 to 19.

Lower Ball Field, meanwhile, could see a jump from 15 available equivalent users to 80.

Local resident Cathy DiPietro, however, questioned some of the data presented, as well as concerns she has about some documented “spikes” in flow. Her technical questions and concerns were entered as part of the official record during Tuesday’s public hearing. Those concerns will be submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection as part of the license review.

Bridges noted that the system’s operator monitors flow monthly.

Selectmen admitted that over the past few years, it has been confusing as to what the actual capacity of the two disposal areas truly is.

That uncertainty created a little tension amongst some citizens attending the public hearing.

Doug Oakley, who initially identified himself as both a resident and a member of the planning board, questioned why town officials failed to mention the possibility that more capacity existed in the current wastewater system during the public campaign to finance the new and expanded disposal project? Oakley pointed out that the request for license increase from Bridges to Gregg Wood of Maine’s Bureau of Water Quality and Wastewater Licensing is dated Aug. 17.

Selectmen chairman Lee Eastman asked Oakley to clarify whether he was speaking for the planning board or as a citizen, since he noted he was a board member when he identified himself.

“Concerned citizen,” Oakley said.

Oakley pointed out that by his math, the increase sought for the Lower Ball Field was 69%, more than the 50% allowed.

“It’s a lot,” he added.

Town Manager Robert Peabody saw the chance to gain a license increase as an opportunity — maybe enabling another business to open before the new wastewater system goes on line.

As to why the added capacity possibility wasn’t raised during the new wastewater project discussion, Peabody noted that the state has yet to act upon the request.

“We were working with what we know,” he said. “There is nothing that says DEP will accept the change. The board is simply doing its due diligence.”

Citizen Tom Smith questioned whether capacity existed for the proposed Hotel Bridgton project. He heard that there wasn’t enough capacity to cover the conference center portion of the project.

Peabody said the hotel project is covered, leaving one equivalent user left under the present licensing capacity. If amended, that figure moves to 19. Selectman Bear Zaidman added that available capacity covered the 68 rooms proposed, and it was his understanding that conference center construction would be in two or three years — the same time the new wastewater system would be ready to go.

Planners were scheduled to hear details of the reworked Hotel Bridgton plan last night (a report will appear in next week’s edition).

In other meeting notes:

  • By a 5–0 vote, selectmen appointed Robert A. Peabody Jr. as town manager Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019. This appointment satisfies Maine statutes. Peabody will be up for a new contract as Bridgton’s manager in 2019.
  • Bridgton will remain in the market for a Community Development Director (Planner).

Deb Brusini, a planning board member, asked selectmen for an update, expressing some fear that the position could be removed from the upcoming budget process since there has been no hire, to date.

With a number of projects in the pipeline for 2019, Brusini feels having a certified planner on board would certainly help the planning board and town, overall.

Town Manager Bob Peabody said the position will be re-advertised after the holiday, and the position remains in the budget. Peabody will develop the CDD budget, as he has done for the past year, and present it to selectmen for review.

  • Lyn and Larry Carter updated selectmen regarding work completed and projects still in the pipeline at the Ham Recreation Complex, off Route 302. Lyn Carter was recently elected as president of the Bridgton Recreation Advancement Group (BRAG). Other officers include: Leslie Hayes, vice president; Bill Macdonald, treasurer; and Dan Edwards, secretary.

Larry Carter serves as complex manager. His overview included: Field 4 drainage was completed this past spring by Rex Rolfe, while added drainage for the soccer field will take place either winter or spring; all baseball and softball fields were cut to get infield “lips” out, base paths were cut wider and ball field mix was added; foundation is in for the concession stand and all underground utilities installed, fundraising ongoing with the hope to start construction in 2019; Carter purchased a grader, which he pulls behind a tractor to smooth out the access road to the complex; Field 4’s outfield fence was removed and replaced by a temporary fence to enable expansion of the soccer field.

BRAG meets the second Wednesday of each month at the Bridgton Community Center at 7 p.m. Public is welcome.

  • Selectmen approved the “charge/mission” of the newly-created Project Liaison Ad Hoc Committee, which will “seek to facilitate communication and encourage cooperation between stakeholders during the course of the wastewater and streetscape construction projects.” Now, officials will look to fill out the committee, inviting members of the current Wastewater, Community Development and Land Use Zoning Committees. Selectmen will invite applications and appoint members. The town manager and deputy town manager will also be included.

The charge: “Through active communication about details, schedules and concerns, help foster better engagement and a strong working relationship between all parties to the benefit of the projects and the community.”

Consulting engineer Brent Bridges also noted that he will provide selectmen updates every two weeks. He noted that an aerial survey has been completed, while groundwork is expected to take place during the winter and spring. Bridges said some of the early work includes where to site pump stations and the wastewater plant.

There will also be discussions with the Bridgton Water District in regards to system upgrades on Lower Main Street and coordinating that work with the town’s construction.

The public will be able to track project happenings on the town’s website. Information, as it becomes available, will be posted on the site’s front page under the title, “Projects.”

  • Fire Chief Steve Fay thanked voters for supporting the Fire Protection and Life Safety Ordinance, which passed in November. “This is a big move for us,” Fay said.
  • Selectmen accepted Andrew and Margaret Miller’s donation of $100 for Pondicherry Park in honor of Kathy and Harvey Snyder. “We enjoyed our walk there with them,” the Millers wrote.
  • Fifty-nine 45-day foreclosure notices (for the 2016 tax liens) were mailed out last Friday, Dec. 7. The date of foreclosure is Jan. 21, 2019.
  • A reminder that 2019 dog licenses are available for renewal.
  • The town office will be closed on Dec. 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., for the annual staff holiday luncheon.
  • With winter weather here, the town reminds the public to keep driveways and private roads cleared and sanded so that if the need arises, emergency personnel can safely access one’s property.
  • Upcoming meetings: Jan. 8 and Jan. 22.
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