Farmers’ Market to keep spot, for now

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Helen Ramsdell sees the Farmers Market as a “destination” for visitors and area residents seeking healthy, fresh produce and other food items.

For the final market weeks of 2016, the “destination” will remain the same.

2017, however, might be a different story.

Selectmen suggested that next year the popular market either be moved to the back portion or other spots on the Bridgton Community Center property, or even consider another location — possibly on the Steven Brook school grounds.

Since lack of available parking sparked the debate about the market’s location, Selectman Bob McHatton added to his motion that vendors park their vehicles down Depot Street, near the Skate Park, while Selectman Paul Hoyt asked that the market’s musical entertainers move to another spot on the grounds so that electrical cords no longer snake about the parking lot.

Since their last talk with Bridgton Farmers Market officials, selectmen visited the municipal lot off Depot Street. They did notice a few box trucks parked in the lot. Ramsdell, the market’s manager, said some vendors are elderly or suffer some physical limitations, thus needing to have vehicles nearby.

Assistant Market Manager Breanna Mae Thomas-Googins hoped officials would allow the market to return to the “greens” along Depot Street, and disliked the idea of tucking the market behind the Community Center, which would result in the market losing its “visual presence.”

Board Chairman Greg Watkins credited with the market for doing a “wonderful job,” noting he frequents the market, but noted that allowing the market back onto the green would not address parking issues in the municipal lot, which spills over to spaces earmarked for Downeast Industries and the Magic Lantern. Watkins agreed it was time to consider other location options.

Ramsdell reminded selectmen of the hard work put in by market leaders — including making the operation EBT-friendly, thus opening it up to lower income families in search of fresh alternatives, something the big stores don’t offer — and vendors to make the Farmers Market a “destination,” since 1997.

She asked that selectmen not move the market so late in the season because it would require advertising and notice to alert customers of the change,

Selectmen agreed to keep the Farmers Market at its present location, for now.

In other selectmen meeting news:

School deemed safe — Code Enforcement Officer Robbie Baker conducted a “visual” inspection of Bridgton Memorial School at the request of selectmen, who wanted to know if the vacant structure is “dangerous” under the town’s ordinance.

Baker reported that the building’s foundation is in “good shape” with a “few cracks, but nothing serious.” Five broken windows have been boarded up, some water stains could be seen on ceiling tiles and some paint is flaking.

“It’s my opinion that it is not a dangerous building,” Baker said.

Public’s help needed — For the second time in two weeks, vandals struck in Pondicherry Park. The town responded by beefing up police patrols, but officials feel they also need the public’s help to put a stop to acts of vandalism there.

“It is unfortunate that some individuals choose to destroy equipment and property that is meant for the enjoyment of the community as a peaceful and tranquil place to spend time,” said Deputy Town Manager Georgiann Fleck. “Every effort is being made to catch the ones that are defacing and destroying private property, not only in the park but throughout town.”

Police have received reports of juveniles and others drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana in the park, as well as leaving trash behind.

If the public witnesses criminal activity or suspicious behavior in the park, they are asked to contact the Bridgton Police Department at 893-2810.

Fire chief candidates — As of the application deadline of Aug. 19, 31 applications for the full-time fire chief position were received.

Public safety assistant hired — Ashley Hutter has been hired as the public safety administrative assistant. She will begin work on Monday, Aug. 29.

In 2014, Hutter worked in the police department as an intern. While in school, she remained as a fill-in when needed.

Road to be closed — When the Glidden AAA Automobile Tour comes to town on Sept. 15, Depot Street from the parking lot entrance to the Skate Park area will be closed off to traffic.

Selectmen agreed by a 4-1 vote (Chairman Greg Watkins opposed) to close the street from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Bridgton is part of the Thursday tour schedule with drivers making a brief stop here for coffee, as well as showing off their antique vehicles (pre-1940s) to Stevens Brook Elementary School students.

Anne Krieg, the town’s director of planning and economic development, talked with tour officials a year ago and helped lure the famed event to Bridgton. The antique cars will be parked along one side of the street (keeping a lane open for emergency response), giving the public a chance to check them out.

Selectman Bear Zaidman asked Krieg to verbally speak with business owners about the plan so they can be sure to coordinate deliveries on that day. He also suggested that Krieg ask tour officials if antique car drivers could possibly make a stop at Bridgton Health Care, enabling residents there to view the classics.

Town to study waste flow — To make a fair decision on how to move forward in dealing with commercial trash haulers, officials will spend a year collecting data.

From Labor Day to Labor Day 2017, the town will log the amount of waste commercial haulers dump at the transfer station. Staff will identify those haulers, and then request drivers to pull onto the town’s scale to weigh each load being dumped.

Selectmen will then hold a workshop next October to determine how to proceed, whether to charge haulers fees.

Under review — The town is creating an Ordinance Review Committee, which will include a Planning Board member, as well as four citizens. The town manager and/or deputy town manager will be ex officio members, while the town’s planner will serve as staff to the committee. Members will serve three-year terms. Selectmen will determine the group’s work plan.

Selectmen concerns — Selectman Bear Zaidman questioned whether a police officer is needed at every event held in a park. He also asked that the board review Shoreland Zoning fines and determine if the town needs a towing ordinance (which towing company is called and how much is charged).

“Some taxpayers feel fines are not high enough,” Zaidman said.

Chairman Greg Watkins voiced concerns about the length of time vehicles are parked on Main Street. He wondered if signs should be placed calling for a two-hour limit or “something along those lines.”

Selectman Bernie King said the issued was raised in 2011, and the sticking point was how the parking limit would be enforced — do patrolman have time as they attempt to cover 62–64 miles and what liability would the town face if a citizen was hired?

Selectman Bob McHatton pointed out that some business owners are also culprits, parking their vehicles in front of their storefronts for hours upon hours.

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