Bridgton selectmen notes: CMHC head gauges public pulse on local hospital from board chairman

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Lee Eastman made a surprise visit Tuesday.

He met Jeff Brickman, president and CEO of Central Maine Healthcare, at Bridgton Hospital for a half hour. Brickman was interested in getting the pulse of local citizens regarding their feelings about Bridgton Hospital.

“It was a good conversation,” Eastman told selectmen at their Tuesday night meeting. Eastman serves as the board’s chairman. The most important message was there is no intention to close Bridgton Hospital.

Brickman plans to hold meetings with local clubs (Rotary and Lions), organizations (Chamber of Commerce) and selectmen in November to explain how CMH plans to rebuild its organization.

In other meeting news:

Big number for Bridgton? Town Manager Bob Peabody knows the number the feds have in mind to assist Bridgton with its major infrastructure upgrade — a greatly expanded, new wastewater system.

“It’s a big number,” was all the manager could say Tuesday night since the release of the USDA Office of Rural Development (bond/grant) award is embargoed until today, Thursday.

“It’s a lifetime opportunity,” Peabody said. The figure is more than what is often allotted for the entire state of Maine, he added.

A workshop will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m. to explain the project, how grant money will affect bonding needs and repercussions to taxpayers, both from a financial standpoint as well as ramifications in terms of development and environmental. The public is encouraged to attend.

No action on tree-stand request. Tim Tobin hoped to place a ladder tree stand on the town’s lot located behind Bridgton Hospital for the 2018 deer hunting season.

Hearing an opinion from attorney Michael Lichtenstein of Maine Municipal Association, selectmen decided to take no action on the request.

The same question from another town was posed to MMA Legal Services. Lichtenstein forwarded colleague Rebecca McMahon’s legal opinion to Bridgton officials:

“I do not think the Select Board would have the authority to allow a hunter to erect a tree stand without an ordinance regulating the approval of such a request. From a practical standpoint, I do not think the Select Board would want to allow such activity to go unregulated. The activity is potentially rife with conflict. I imagine there are some trees/areas of the property that are better than others, and permitting their use without selection criteria — first come, first served for example — creates a high potential for conflict among hunters using tree stands.

“Also, the land may be used for other nonhunting related activities, like hiking or mountain biking. Those who use the land in this matter may be less keen on the idea of hunting on town forest land, but particularly opposed to the idea of hunters in the trees,” McMahon wrote.

Lichtenstein suggested that if the town is interested in authorizing the use of tree stands on town-owned property, the matter should be taken to a town meeting vote and an ordinance adopted regulating their use.

Help with marketing efforts? The Community Development Committee can lend a hand in collecting data to help market Bridgton as a destination for new businesses, families and tourists.

That is, if their help is wanted.

CDC chairman Helen Archer and member Bob McHatton told selectmen that the group is willing to compile data on such topics as housing, economy and upcoming projects (such as wastewater and streetscape), which could then be passed along to marketing firms or other groups that promote Bridgton.

Another option might be to request that the Economic Development Corp. take on the marketing project, but if it did, McHatton suspects that funding would be needed — something selectmen might consider when formulating the 2019 budget.

Archer also offered CDC support to BlackFly, which will handle a media campaign to create public awareness and education regarding the wastewater and streetscape projects.

“There’s a great amount of talent on this committee which could help BlackFly,” Archer noted. Help could be in the form of making phone calls and sending out postcards.

BlackFly’s blitz will include press releases to media outlets, op-ed pieces, direct mail, and information sheets to be handed out at the transfer station. There will also be presentations made to various town groups and organizations, such as the Rotary and Lions Clubs and Young Professionals.

Going techie. There might be less paper on the selectmen’s meeting room table in the future.

Like the town’s planning board, selectmen could soon receive their agendas, as well as backup information, on iPads. Chairman Lee Eastman suggested the idea as a way to keep his business and town affairs separate, while also realizing a cost savings for taxpayers. Eastman, however, understands that others may prefer paper.

Town Manager Robert Peabody felt using iPads on the board level wasn’t an “all or nothing” use scenario. Whether one, two or more selectmen use an iPad instead of paper would result in cost savings.

Planners recently upgraded their iPads, mainly a bigger screen. Planners Deb Brusini and Cathy Pinkham told selectmen use of iPads has gone well, although there is an adjustment phase for those who come from the PC world. Pinkham suggested that selectmen might consider adding a mouse to their iPad package as an easier way to maneuver.

At a recent ordinance review meeting, Eastman said it was difficult for him to use his phone to review existing policies. iPads with Wi-Fi only cost about $329 each. Selectmen found no need to add cellular.

Selectman Bear Zaidman asked that the town’s IT specialist, Chris Sanborn, give the board a tutorial and demonstrate the iPads’ capability.

School Board rep. Following an executive session regarding consideration of applicants to fill a Bridgton vacancy on the SAD 61 School Board, selectmen took no action. Four individuals have expressed interest in the position. The term ends June 2019.

CDC resignation. When David Crowell informed Lee Eastman via e-mail in July that he was resigning as a Community Development Advisory Committee member (he also served as vice chairman), the Board of Selectmen chairman simply accepted the decision and sent the following reply: “David, thank you for everything you have done for this committee. Much appreciated.”

Eastman didn’t realize the resignation had to go before the entire board.

With an apology for failing to bring the item before selectmen and a public thanks to Crowell for his community service, Eastman corrected his snafu Tuesday night as the board officially accepted the resignation.

Fire notes. Mike Rand and Dalton Hulsey completed the Bureau of Labor Standards interior firefighting program. Deputy Eric Field has started the Officer I and II course in Alfred.

BFD has finished painting the airboat’s hull. Fire Chief Steve Fay says a high-tech finish required extensive curing time between coats. The bottom of the hull has 18 layers, which two different types of coating were used. This past Sunday, the airboat was taken to Highland Lake for a float test. The hull is now completely sealed and ready for reassembly of the upgraded components. The new engine is complete and is waiting for the propeller to be shipped.

Stations 4, 5 and 6 now have Internet access. The last step will be the addition of laptops or tablets so that administrative work can be handled from each station. This is also part of the security system now in place at all firehouses.

Department membership inquiries are averaging about two per month.

Spirit Fund. The town received a check for $300 to make an award to a Bridgton community project in Ed Rock’s name, under the Ed Rock Community Spirit Fund of the Maine Community Foundation (based in Ellsworth).

Terms include:

  • The recipient organization must be either a nonprofit or a public organization;
  • The payment may only be used for the purpose stated;
  • The payment may not be used for a political campaign or to support attempts to influence legislation of any governmental body other than through making available the results of nonpartisan analysis, study and research.

Next meetings. The next selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. UPDATE. This meeting has been canceled. Selectmen will meet on Wednesday, Oct. 10, holding a workshop and public information session regarding the wastewater system project and Main Street streetscape at 6 p.m.

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