Naples benches to ‘sit out’ winter

NW dd49 Naples benches go indoors for winter ONE

A few of the commemorative benches were covered with layers of ice from Long Lake last week. On Monday, the Naples Board of Selectmen voted to put the benches in storage for the winter. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Winter conditions can age things quicker — from the exterior of a home to lawn furniture left uncovered in the yard.

Residents of Naples have been concerned about how the wooden benches — each dedicated to a family member or a business — will fare during the winter weather on the Causeway.

“I would like to see those benches put away for the winter and brought back out for spring. During the winter, they should be off the Causeway. They’re too gorgeous” to get ruined,” said Darren Rogers, with Caretake America, Inc., the company charged with maintenance on the Causeway.

In addition to the ice and snow that Mother Nature might dish out, salt used on Route 302 could come in contact with the benches, and do a number on them, Rogers said.

He mentioned that a local businessman had offered space to store the 30 benches. That space is in a building that is open seasonally.

The Naples Board of Selectmen decided to heed Roger’s advice.

The board voted unanimously to map out where the benches are placed, and then store them indoors for winter’s duration.

Selectman Christine Powers suggested that the town send letters to the people who had purchased the commemorative benches — letting them know that benches would be removed from the Causeway and kept safe from winter’s fury. She said that contact information would likely be on the order forms that people had filled out when they purchased the benches.

“We will tell them that we are protecting their investment,” Powers said.

Her suggestion was prompted by a comment from Causeway Restoration Committee Chairman Bob Neault. When the benches were removed to replace the plaques, “people called and asked where their bench was,” he said.

“It is important to let people know that we never guaranteed a specific spot on the Causeway to the people who purchased the benches,” Neault said.

The benches cost about $1,600 each, were handcrafted by Rob Brand, of Sebago Furniture, and were part of a campaign to raise money for the town’s portion of Causeway renovation costs.

Powers volunteered to help map out where each bench was placed prior to putting them in storage until spring.

In a related matter, Rogers said that town officials should find a way to discourage people from walking on the ice that builds up along the boardwalk on the Long Lake side of the Causeway.

“I would hate to see someone taking a chance and walking and falling on the ice and getting injured,” he said. “The icy conditions can be deceiving when the sheets of ice are covered with snow,” he said.

He said the town could contemplate sanding the sidewalks, but not using a sand-salt mix.

An additional safety measure would be putting up signs warning people of the icy conditions and advising them to use sidewalks on other side of the road, he said.

Rogers told the board that many of his ideas were discussion items for next summer. After a season of doing maintenance on the Causeway, some of his concerns were: encouraging people to use trash cans and recycle bins, keeping weeds at bay using organic methods, and discouraging people from parking on grass during the wet season.

The arborist with Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) removed about three or four plants that did not take to their new space on the Causeway, Rogers said. However, some opportunistic weeds took up residence, he said.

Rogers said he hired Lucas Tree Experts to help with applications of organic fertilizers and organic weed-killers.

“Weeds don’t respond to organic” weed-killers, he said.

“I’ve noticed clover starting to come up” in the late summer and fall, Rogers said.

The problem is that traditional herbicides pose a threat to the water quality; and with bodies of water in such close proximity, applications to kill weeds cannot jeopardize water quality.

Rogers asked Selectman Robert Caron II what he used on the golf course he manages.

Caron said he would investigate alternative weed killers.

Regarding turf management, Rogers said he planned to “take a bigger part in the watering” aspect of the job in 2014. Mowing went really well, he said.

Also, he talked about issues with the recycle bins being used for trash, and overflow of rubbish cans.

Neault suggested placing bigger trash receptacles in the town’s public areas.

Powers said it might be a good idea to put up signs, reminding people to dispose of litter.

“We could put up signs that say how proud we are of the Causeway, and to help keep it clean,” Powers said.

An audience member, as well as a board member, said people do not always read, or heed, the posted signs.

Powers agreed, saying, “Some will; some won’t.”

But, it is worth a try, she said.

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