Citing confusion and complaints, town adjusts park hours

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Those of you who enjoy a hike or fishing under the glow of moonlight will be able to do so in Bridgton without legal repercussions.

A “dawn to dusk” policy change this summer to limit public access to beaches and parks resulted in “some confusion” in regards to the intent and safety concerns raised by town department heads, which pushed for the curfew.

Some walkers voiced their displeasure of not being allowed to access parks after dusk. Tuesday, selectmen approved new time limits. These hours of use take effect once appropriate signage is in place:

  • Dawn to dusk would apply to the following town beaches: Woods Pond Beach, Highland Lake Beach, Plummers Landing Beach and Salmon Point Beach.
  • Dawn to dusk would apply to these town parks: Skateboard area (off Depot Street), Willis Park, Sandy Creek Park, Perry Park, Farragut Park and Town Common.
  • 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Harmon Field, Pondicherry Park and Sabatis Island.
  • No hourly restrictions: Kramer’s Landing (boat launch at Highland Lake), Moose Pond boat landing, Woods Pond boat landing, Shorey Park, Veteran’s Park and Dam Park.

Town Manager Robert Peabody pointed out that Harmon Field’s time was extended to 10 p.m. due to tournaments held there, and he noted that a number of people walk Pondicherry Park at all hours of the night, as caught on surveillance cameras.

“We’re doing our best to accommodate everyone’s needs,” he said.

In other selectmen’s meeting business:

  • Creating a Memorial School plan. When Board Chairman Greg Watkins had a conversation with SAD 61 Superintendent of Schools Al Smith regarding the future of the Bridgton Memorial School property, the general feel was it’s time to move on the issue.

A key will be what Bridgton might want to do at the school site. SAD 61 likely wants to turn the school over to the town as long as its use poses no safety dangers to children.

One use could involve trains.

Through his monitoring of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad, Peter Lowell made a connection with an individual in Boothbay, who has Bridgton stock engine cars, as well as other memorabilia material, and would like to return it here.

“The equipment is in great condition,” Lowell told selectmen. “Maybe the structure (Bridgton Memorial) could be a museum display space.”

Selectman Bear Zaidman suggested that the next step be a community workshop, bringing in various groups from Community Development Committee members, the town’s Community Development Director Audrey Knight, and possibly developers, who might have a few ideas of what could be done there.

Peabody said now could be a good time to dust off “charettes” that were developed from public input regarding use of the property, as well as reviewing the Brownfield Grant paperwork as to environmental findings at the site.

“I would hate to see us reinvent the wheel since we had a number of meetings on this,” Peabody said.

The workshop will be held on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m.

Money talk. Fire Chief Stephen Fay publicly thanked New England Fire Equipment & Apparatus Corp. of North Haven, Conn., for its “generous extrication equipment donation of $22,436.”

“This afforded the Bridgton Fire/Rescue Department the ability to equip our Engine Company #4 and Engine Company #6 with basic hydraulic extrication tools consisting of a gasoline powered hydraulic pump, a 30-foot hose, and a combination spreader/cutting tool for both as well as an additional cutting tool for Engine #6,” Fay said. “This donation has allowed us to equip the new Engine #5 with two complete sets of extrication tools.”

Chief Fay noted that once Engine #5 is put into service, it will serve a dual purpose as a “traditional” engine, as well as a “technical” rescue squad.

“Operationally, this affords the Town of Bridgton to have three fire companies located on the busiest routes in our town to have technical rescue capability. Our total cost to do this was $12,000,” Chief Fay noted.

On a separate note, Chief Fay applied and has been accepted to attend the National Fire Academy, located in Emmitsburg, Md., from Jan. 14 to Jan. 19, 2018.

The Academy is governed by the United States Fire Administration, offering curriculum that provides specialized training and education not otherwise available through state fire training agencies and local fire departments.

  • Additionally, the town accepted a $400 donation from the Ed Rock Community Spirit Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. The money will be applied to the Bridgton Rec Summer Camp to be used for a 2018 summer field trip.
  • Bill Preis presented the town a check for $300 from the Rec Ping Pong players. For the past 13 years, ping pong has been played at the Town Hall on North High Street.

As a sign of appreciation, the group presented selectmen a 20-by-24 portrait of the old Town Hall as it was in 1910. Previously known as the Bridgton Town House, the hall was built in 1851 and is the oldest town-owned building in Bridgton.

Preis read an inscription on the portrait (which is made of heavy gauge aluminum allowing for it to be displayed inside or outdoors — the portrait will be installed in the Town Hall’s vestibule), which noted that in 1902 the building was renovated and 21-feet added to the rear of the structure, and that the current outside column was mistakenly placed upside down — which it still remains today.

Preis noted that while ping pong play is for free Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., players made donations totaling $300 (this was the fourth time a donation was made), which will be used for Bridgton Rec’s Summer Camp field trip fund.

  • Finally, the question has been raised of whether money returned by the state to Bridgton from snowmobile registrations (which are processed by local town office employees) should be used to reduce local taxes or given to the snowmobile club for trail and equipment maintenance?

Resident Bill Vincent said the rebate is “not free money,” and the town should recoup the money to cover its costs of operation. And, he added, if the town allows the snowmobile club to take the rebate, the next group in will be all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts.

Town officials will look again at this issue.

Stones for sale. The granite stones removed from the Moose Pond Causeway can now be purchased for $300 each. The town reserves the right to limit the number of stones sold per individual.

The purchaser must pay in advance before picking the stones up at the Public Works Department. Arrangements are to be made with Public Works Director Jim Kidder (647-1127).

Proceeds from stone sales will be deposited in the Moose Pond Trust Fund.

Rocks are troublesome. Roger Willbee enjoys boat rides on Highland Lake, but getting his craft out of the water can be somewhat troublesome.

Willbee told selectmen that rocks within the launch area caused significant scratches to his boat, and asked officials to remove them.

Kidder later told selectmen part of the problem is people “powering out” their boats onto trailers, which in turn, creates big holes. He will consult with Code Enforcement Officer Rob Baker regarding what work can be done at the launch once the water levels drops.

Personnel matters. Administrative Assistant Brenda Day successfully completed the State of Maine Internal Plumbing and Subsurface Wastewater exams.

“This gives Brenda the authority to inspect septic systems and plumbing installations. This advancement gives the town a back-up when Rob Baker, CEO, is unavailable,” Deputy Town Manager Georgiann Fleck reported.

Transfer Station Manager Robert “Bob” Fitzcharles is back at work following an extended leave of absence.

Next meetings: The next selectmen’s meetings are scheduled for Oct. 10 and Oct. 24.



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