Neighbor gives views on Woods Pond Beach; Bridgton selectmen notes

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

With the culprit — norovirus — identified as the reason nearly 100 people became sick after swimming at Woods Pond Beach, neighbor Barry Denofrio gave selectmen a few observations.

“Barry is our other set of eyes at Woods Pond,” Bridgton Town Manager Robert Peabody told board members Tuesday night.

Several concerns had been expressed to Denofrio including:

  • Fecal matter at the beach. “This year, the Department of Public Works has done an excellent job removing any dog and geese waste in a timely manner. I have not observed any such matter in weeks,” Denofrio said.
  • Lake level. The lake water level was approximately 4.25 at the beginning of July through July 5. The average for the same time in the past is 4.30. “The difference is insignificant. Yes, the level is lower now because of the lack of rain, but is still within the expected summer range,” he noted.
  • General cleanliness at the beach. Again, Denofrio credited Public Works for cleaning the beach “routinely and thoroughly” this summer. “All organic mulch is removed from the beach itself. There has not been any floating natural organic debris in the water in the summer months as in the past. The park area has natural mulch necessary for erosion control, which is clean and replenishes itself annually,” he said.

As a precaution, Peabody said the town will be testing all beaches weekly until Labor Day. Testing will be done on Thursdays so town officials will have results on Friday.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported its findings last Friday regarding what caused swimmers to experience vomiting, diarrhea, fever and cramps.

Norovirus is highly-contagious. CDC officials interviewed those who became ill and tested two stool samples.

Peabody suspects that contamination may have occurred either because a swimmer with norovirus either vomited or had diarrhea in the water.

Town officials were told that they responded appropriately when the outbreak surfaced, contrary to some “nasty” comments made on social media. At a previous board meeting, Selectman Bear Zaidman took offense to the attacks, suggesting that the citizenry contact appropriate town officials to voice concerns or seek out accurate information rather than use social media as an outlet.

In other town news:

Another extension? It has been a little quiet on the Hotel Bridgton front. Bridgton’s Administrative Assistant Brenda Day said the extension granted by the Planning Board expires on Aug. 7. There has been some conversation that the developer (Justin McIver) could seek a second 90-day extension.

Interviewing. Town Manager Peabody will conduct second interviews with the two leading candidates for the Community Development Director position. Peabody’s goal is to bring a candidate for selectmen’s approval in August.

Town officials are also interviewing candidates for the executive secretary position.

Bringing everyone together. To find the best solution to dealing with hazardous trees in Pondicherry Park, selectmen hope to bring all pertinent parties — Pondicherry Park Steering Committee, Loon Echo Land Trust, Lakes Environmental Association and foresters — to the table for conversation.

If all representatives are available, a workshop meeting will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 5:30 p.m., in the selectmen’s meeting room.

Where’s the green? Chairman Lee Eastman gave it some time to see if the grass project on Depot Street would take off?

In his mind, it hasn’t and now is the time to start asking some questions.

“It doesn’t look that good,” he said. Selectmen plan to seek some answers from contractor Perennial Point of View.

“One shopper there said the grass looks puny,” Selectman Fred Packard added.

Clean load. Selectman Zaidman applauded the efforts of Transfer Station personnel, whose efforts to keep trash out of the recycling container resulted in a zero contamination rate.

“That really helps keep costs down,” Zaidman said.

Permit granted. Selectmen approved a special amusement permit for Standard Gastropub, located on Main Street. Entertainment will go to 10 p.m. While Bridgton does not have a noise ordinance, Planning Board member Deb Brusini told selectmen that as part of the performance standards (there is a noise standard) applied to Gastropub’s proposal to open an outdoor deck area, planners expected entertainment to end at 10 p.m.

Still time left. If you wish to include a letter or some items in Bridgton’s time capsule, all memorabilia is due at the Bridgton Historical Society Museum (Gibbs Avenue) by the end of the month.

Short takes. The new sign for the Town Hall on North High Street has been ordered.

Selectman Bob Murphy asked Public Works to clear trees and brush that are obstructing the view of “Welcome to Bridgton” signs on major roadways.

Still no word from the Department of Transportation regarding taking another look at the Portland/Meadow Road intersection. Murphy said there was another near collision at the busy intersection.

Fire officials recognized the efforts of Justin Gibbons and the Hilltop Roofing crew for their work at South Station. BFD thanks Hancock Lumber and Everlast Roofing for supplies and materials.

Fire Chief Steve Fay recognized the efforts of Engine 1, Ladder 1 and Tank 4 crews for their work at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds fire that destroyed two buildings and damaged five others on July 10.

Next board meetings: Aug. 14 and Aug. 28. 5:30 p.m.

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