Bridgton selectmen: Ironing out differences; new life for train?
By Wayne E. Rivet
As rain pelted tents at times Saturday, there was still a sense of exuberance as the Bridgton Farmers Market opened for a new season.
Patrons pelted selectmen Tuesday night with a variety of questions regarding the town’s perceived attempt to run the popular market, as well as the need for regulations and unnecessary charges, including seeking a fee from the Farmers Market for the music and EBT tents.
Several spoke about their enjoyment talking with farmers and vendors while shopping for fresh produce and interesting items.
“The selectmen’s discussions are puzzling,” one market patron said. “This asset is being treated as a problem. What problems are you trying to fix? I can’t find them.”
Bridgton Town Manager Bob Peabody informed the public that a productive meeting had been held with Market spokeswoman Brenna Mae Thomas-Googins regarding issues that have been raised, such as vendor parking and tent locations on town-owned property.
Peabody noted that the Bridgton Outdoor Market encompasses three pieces: the Bridgton Farmers Market falls under the umbrella as does two other “spots” which the town can assign to vendors not associated with the Farmers Market.
He added that all vendors will be required to show proof of insurance and be subject to the same space rental fees.
Selectmen asked when Peabody and Thomas-Googins might have the new rules and regulations completed for their review? The two will meet again in June.
“We want to get a couple of Saturdays under our belt so we can realize all issues that may exist, as well as points brought by the public tonight,” Peabody said. “We want to do this right (creation of rules and regulations), not year after year. We want to put this to bed for awhile.”
In other business,
Another chance at railroad? When the two rail cars were removed from the tracks on the Chamber of Commerce lot and shipped off to Gray, it appeared the final Narrow Gauge Railroad chapter had been written in Bridgton.
When Gray voters rejected a $500,000 bond to help develop the new railroad museum site, the door became slightly open for another relocation. Peter Lowell contacted the train preservation organization in Portland and asked if there was even a “remote” chance that the group might look at other options following the Gray “no” vote. Executive Director Donnie Carroll said the group meets May 25 and other options could be discussed.
“The Narrow Gauge Railroad has been the Holy Grail of Bridgton for a long time,” Lowell told Bridgton selectmen Tuesday night. “Many people felt badly when it left. There may be an opening now. It may be the last one.”
Lowell brought the topic to selectmen to see if any interest exists for him to engage in some preliminary conversations with the Narrow Gauge board.
“I will help in any way that I can,” he said. “There are a lot of pieces and parts. If the town is lucky enough to pursue it, there will be a lot of fundraising (multiple sources will be needed, not for the townsfolk to fund) and a lot of work involved.”
Town Manager Bob Peabody said conversations he has had with SAD 61 regarding taking over the Bridgton Memorial School site have centered on what the town might do with the property. A museum and train station, along with retail shops, could bring new life to the property.
However, right now Lowell will simply “be at the table” as the Narrow Gauge people look at their options and report back to selectmen what might happen next.
Salvage yard to undergo more scrutiny. Selectmen again tabled action on an application for an automobile graveyard/junkyard permit from Powerhouse Salvage after questions were raised by local resident, David Martin.
As part of a public hearing, Martin questioned officials regarding their knowledge of state regulations, as well as whether they had seen the property.
Martin pointed out that state law does not allow salvage/junkyards to be 300 feet from a cemetery or water supply. The Powerhouse Salvage lot, Martin says, is too close to both a cemetery and spring that he believes supplies one or two homes on Salmon Point Road.
Another point of law is the operation must be a “viable business.” Martin raised questions whether the business owner previously had a resale license and whether all fluids have been removed from vehicles left at the salvage/junkyard. He suggested that selectmen should send the town’s code enforcement officer to the property and take photos of existing conditions there.
Selectman Bernie King noticed on the application that the owner suggested that the operation was “grandfathered” in regards to certain rules such as distance from a cemetery.
Martin disputed that claim, saying that when the operation changed hands, even within a family, a new application had to be submitted and thus the business would fall under existing state laws.
Selectmen tabled action to allow the town manager to research various points raised by Martin with the town’s attorney. The matter will be on the May 23 agenda.
At top of the CDC’s list. To implement the Comprehensive Plan, the Community Development Committee created a priority list to follow. They will focus on: 1. Sewer and streetscape; 2. Land use and zoning; 3. Jobs, website and branding; 4. Housing and aesthetics; 5. Natural resources.
Chuck Renneker of the CDC told selectmen the group also plans to reach out to other town committees to offer assistance with work they may be undertaking.
By selectmen accepting the proposed list of priorities, Renneker said his group “knows we are following the right path.”
Selectmen supported the list by a 5-0 margin.
Treats to make beach day better. Coming from Tennessee, Nina Zagrazdina topped off her summer day with a tasty, fresh bowl of fruit cobbler with a scoop of ice cream.
She will bring the “quintessential” summer dessert treat to Highland Lake Beach after selectmen approved a victualer’s license.
Doing business as the Cast Iron Cobbler, Zagrazdina told officials that she will use “wholesome” ingredients, including locally-grown products.
The food cart will utilize propane for hot water, and coolers full of ice will be used as a means of refrigeration. There will be no generator, and Zagrazdina will be responsible for all trash disposal.
The one safety concern selectmen had was where to locate the food cart? One idea was to place it in the grassy area to the right of the Highland Lake boat launch. Officials, however, worried about children crossing the drive-up area to the launch site, especially on busy summer days.
So, the cart will be positioned to the left of the boat launch, similar to where the ice bar and tent were during the Winter Carnival. Selectmen voted 4-1 in favor of the request (Bernie King was against).
Job interest. The town has received 14 applications for the Community Development Director position, which closes May 12.
Three people have applied for the part-time on-call Transfer Station laborer position, which is now closed.
The town is also advertising for a part-time laborer at Salmon Point Campground. Information for open positions can be found on the town’s website.
Growing the ranks. As of the first of the year, nine new firefighters have been added to the Bridgton Fire Department roster, according to Chief Stephen Fay.
At the BFD’s annual banquet, the following awards and recognitions were made:
Randy King Award — Captain Dana Wiswell
Robert Allen Award — Bette-Jean Espeaignette
Officer of the Year — Captain Bradley Vincent
Firefighter of the Year — Lieutenant Timothy Bright
Rookie of the Year — Joshua Laird
Most Improved Firefighter – Adam Cook
A Certificate of Appreciation was presented to Audra Cook. It read, “We, the members of the Bridgton Fire Department, hereby extend our gratitude for all the help and support behind the scenes to take care of paperwork, run reports, training records, and payroll to help keep the department running.”
A Certificate of Appreciation was given to McDonald’s “for their faithful support of the Bridgton Fire Department. Your donations of hot food at fire scenes are extremely helpful and very much appreciated.”
The following members were recognized for years of service:
Glen Garland, 35 years
Todd Perreault, 35 years
Michael Chaine, 15 years
Eric Field, 15 years
Robert Mawhinney, 15 years
Ernest R. Field, 10 years
Neil Andrews, 5 years
Adam Cook, 5 years
Bette-Jean Espeaignette, 5 years
Joshua Martin, 5 years
The following certificates of training were presented:
Paul Field Jr., 39 trainings for total of 88.5 hours
Tim Bright, 41 trainings for total of 90.0 hours
Nathan Frank, 40 trainings for total of 81.5 hours
William Morrisseau, 37 trainings for total of 78.5 hours
Lawrence Scholz, 34 trainings for total of 73.0 hours
Ernest W. Field, 35 trainings for total of 73.0 hours
Evelyn Klecman, 32 trainings for total of 69.5 hours
Jay Spenciner, 31 trainings for total of 66.0 hours
Bradley Vincent, 32 trainings for total of 68.5 hours
Bob Pierce, 27 trainings for total of 60.5 hours
Audra Cook, 29 trainings for total of 59.5 hours
Eric Field, 27 trainings for total of 58.5 hours
Robert Mawhinney, 25 trainings for total 54.0 hours.
No smoking. The former smoking area in front of the Town Office has been changed to nonsmoking to comply with state law.
“Additionally, there have been complaints as the smoke drifts inside when the windows are open,” Town Manager Bob Peabody read in his manager’s report.
Picnic time. The annual volunteer and staff picnic will be held on Saturday, June 3, at the old town hall on North High Street, starting at 11 a.m. There will be food, musical entertainment and a raffle. The town manager will be manning the grill.
- Staying on board. Maureen McDevitt has agreed to serve another three-year term as Bridgton’s representative on the ecomaine board.
On the ballot. The ballot for the annual town meeting vote set for Tuesday, June 13 includes:
- Selectmen, three-year term — Robert P. Murphy, George F. Packard and William S. Vincent — vote for two.
- Planning Board, regular member, three-year term — Brian J. Thomas — vote for one.
- Planning Board, alternate, three-year term — Charles K. Gibbs — vote for one.
- SAD 61 director, three-year term — Cynthia B. LeBlanc — vote for one.
- SAD 61 director, one year — no candidate, write in — vote for one.
- Water District trustee, three-year term — Barry N. Gilman — vote for one.
The ballot also includes a referendum whether the town should enact a moratorium ordinance on retail marijuana establishments and retail marijuana social clubs?