Electronic sign — Not a bright idea; selectmen looking at other options

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Diana Channell is just one of several North High Street residents who strongly believe placing an electronic sign at the Town Hall is not a bright idea.

“It seems that our concerns as neighbors don’t matter. How can they (selectmen) be looking at signs when the people close to the Town Hall have stated it would ruin the historical look of the area,” Channell wrote in a letter to Town Manager Bob Peabody. “There are better places for advertisement for activities in the town such as on social media, at the Chamber of Commerce, and even on the sign at the Magic Lantern.”

Channell added, “The speed of cars is so fast on 302 coming into town that a sign will not slow anyone down and (at) the speed people travel, they won’t see it or it will cause more accidents due to being distracted.”

Others concur, even those who reside elsewhere in Bridgton.

“I am very opposed to placing an electronic sign at the old Town Hall. Very few people get information about upcoming events from driving by a sign,” wrote Sally Boggs of Fosterville Road. “I hate all the electric signs in Bridgton and hope that the town will enact an ordinance to forbid them. They are extremely ugly and are far too bright and distracting. They detract from the historic image of our lovely town.”

Sandy Violette added, “An electronic sign in Bridgton would be detrimental to the town’s vibe and atmosphere. I can’t see that it’s necessary in the least. It’s unwanted, and it will most certainly cheapen the look of the town…We don’t need Bridgton looking like Hampton or Salisbury Beach. Such bad taste.”

On social media, comments about electronic signs ranged from “hideous and distracting” to “not keeping with the small town historic feel of Bridgton” to “shortsighted…North Windham can have them.”

Selectmen heard those comments loud and clear. On a night when two sign companies were unable to attend the board’s meeting to show a couple of sign options, selectmen decided to go in a different direction.

An option is a sign similar to the one Casco installed at the new municipal complex. It requires use of letters to create messages on four available lines. Like Casco, Bridgton would keep the sign low enough (but also taking into consideration snowbanks) to provide easy placement of letters.

Selectman Bob McHatton wondered if there is a need for a sign at all in today’s social media world and websites.

“It depends who you speak to,” Peabody responded.

Chairman Greg Watkins feels the sign both identifies what the structure is (“One could go by and say, ‘Nice Masonic Lodge,’ he said) and provides an opportunity to provide contact information, such as the town’s web address.

The town has raised $12,000 for an electronic sign, but now that money will likely be penciled for a sign that “fits” closer with the neighborhood’s historic feel.

In other meeting notes:

Grass or stone? Is grass, stone or concrete the answer to the Depot Street “green spaces,” where Farmers’ Market vendors set up shop on Saturdays?

While natural grass appears out as an option (due to continuous maintenance caused by “wear” and upkeep), selectmen will research three alternatives — artificial turf, stamped concrete or a fine pebble mix sealed with epoxy, which Selectman Bear Zaidman encountered during a trip to Gettysburg.

If a hardscape approach is taken, vendors will need to take a different approach regarding securing tents since they will no longer be able to use stakes, but instead rely on concrete weights to hold structures in place.

Officials will review findings at their next meeting in two weeks, and move toward making a decision.

Income survey completed. Field work for the Wastewater Income Survey is done. Several surveys were received by mail after the town placed an advertisement in The News. The surveys are being tabulated by Art Astarita at RCAP Solution, the northeast affiliate of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (working to ensure that rural and small communities have access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater and solid waste disposal).

Road posting. The town will post public ways for load limits from March 1 to May 1, to protect roadways from damage during the thaw cycle. Roads to be posted include:

South Bridgton — Burnham, Willis Park, Ingalls, Fosterville (to end), Winn, Swamp, North, Raspberry Lane, Camp Pondicherry, Wildwood and Moose Cove Lodge.

West Bridgton — Mountain, Hio Ridge, Sam Ingalls, Whitney, Highland Pines, Millbrook, Harmon, Isaac Stevens, Kilgore, Cedar Drive, East and West Pondicherry, and South Bay (Knights Hill development).

North Bridgton — Highland, Chadbourne Hill, Upper Ridge, Middle Ridge, Monk, Kimball, and Highland Point development.

Village area — Kansas, Pond, Dugway, Mt. Henry and Zion Hill.

Hot dog sales. Selectmen approved a victualer’s license for Carl Dittrich to operate Off the Wall (a small enclosed hot dog cart) at 1235 North High Street.

Taxes abated. The board approved tax abatements for 15 properties totaling $1,463.94. The largest was $740.84 reflecting the building’s current condition, while the remaining 14 involved businesses that “can no longer be found in Bridgton.”

Next meeting. Selectmen will next meet on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 5 p.m.

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