CDBG funds for ball field, rink, street upgrades?

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

In early fall, Harmon Field saw a major upgrade when the town installed a new playground.

Smiles on the faces of players and spectators could grow bigger as town officials weigh the idea of using $45,000 in community development block grant funds to construct a new snack shack, two handicap accessible bathrooms, two dugouts, and storage areas.

“The facility currently lacks permanent bathrooms and relies on rented port-a-potties. The existing snack shack is in fair condition and has limited functionality and offers minimal storage opportunities,” a report to Bridgton selectmen reads. “Moving the dugouts will enhance the field and improve safety.”

If approved, construction would take place this fall after the summer sports season has ended, and be completed by spring 2019.

Ball field upgrade was just one of three projects proposed under the town’s “bricks and mortar” infrastructure improvements funded by CDBG grant money.

Town Manager Bob Peabody said estimated CDBG money earmarked for Bridgton is about $180,000. The town uses $25,000 for service/programs while $30,000 plus or minus targets administrative needs. The remaining $125,000 targets “brick and mortar” improvements.

Project 2 is $35,000 to improve the town skating rink, located behind the Town Hall. The facility serves two functions — winter skating (free activity) and the site of summer recreation programming (over 40 children are served).

“There are several issues with the facility…the attached warming shack is in poor condition and will be rebuilt including storage lockers and new heating source; the interior lighting will be changed to LED (the town will seek a possible rebate from Efficiency Maine); new screening for the cut-out sections; and an exhaust to improve freezing of the ice,” the report states.

If approved, the project would start after the Summer Rec program ends, and will be completed by January 2019.

Board Chairman Greg Watkins questioned whether the town needed to offer skating there since local residents can use the Chalmers Arena at Bridgton Academy at no cost.

Public Works Director Jim Kidder said the rink, when operational, is “used heavily.” The problem has been being able to keep ice there (this year, the rink has been unable to open). Changing winter patterns make it difficult for staff to produce a decent surface to skate on. Kidder said an exhaust system could aid in blowing out warm air and keeping the facility cold. LED lighting would also eliminate some heat.

Project 3 is $45,000 to help rebuild Lower Main Street, primarily the road and sidewalk between Mechanic Street and Cross Street intersection.

The project includes “stubbing” side streets for wastewater system expansion, repairs to existing wastewater infrastructure, improving drainage, new streetlights and sidewalks (mirroring the Main Street streetscape project), and new road surfacing. On-street parking from the intersection of Cross Street will be improved.

Work would begin this fall, and be completed by spring/summer 2019.

At this time, the overall estimate of the Lower Main Street project is $1,195,000. Peabody noted that the town would look to recoup some costs ($50,000) for opening up and closing the roadway from the Bridgton Water District, which will look to upgrade its system.

A bulk of the funds would be covered by a bond. Peabody reported that rates are “incredibly favorable” at this time. The town could look to bond over a 15- or 20-year period. Peabody noted that the town is set to retire its $50,000 town hall debt, so Bridgton will have no long-term debt in hand.

Voters will be asked to act on this project in November.

The CDBG timeline is as follows:

Feb. 21, deadline for service group requests, staff recommendations, and infrastructure projects.

March 13, selectmen review proposed projects and requests; a decision could be made then or take a little more time to finalize, done by March 27.

March 28, submit CDBG project list to county officials for review and approval.

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