Plan to ‘enhance’ Shorey Park, improve travel flow

By Lisa Williams Ackley

Staff Writer

Bridgton’s Shorey Park and proposed changes to it was a topic of discussion at Tuesday night’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

Community Development Committee member Dee Miller updated the selectmen Sept. 13 on changes she said the CDC is proposing and requested that funds be placed in next year’s budget to bring some of those proposed changes to fruition.

Miller said the matter has been “thoroughly vetted” and that she and others had met with a representative from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday to discuss permits that would be necessary for any restoration work.

“We’re trying to maintain a public space and make it more effective, so people can gather — not a huge gathering — and feel a community thing,” Miller said. “To that end, we really want to enhance Shorey Park and promote flow between the business district, the park and the beach.”

“What we want to do there are four goals,” said Miller. “One is to define the shoreline of the millpond; Two, we want to improve the water quality (storm runoff from Creamery Street and create a more effective buffer; Three, to update safety for the public — that is a disaster waiting to happen (referring to the footbridge); and Four, to increase public flow and attractiveness.”

Some of the other written recommendations made by the CDC members include: “Repair the bridge, installing safe, more effective side railings, especially on the downstream to ensure safety — especially of youngsters. Groom the grassy slope to serve as lawn seating; reconfigure existing walkway width, layout and materials — recommend looking into a permeable paver for the pathway, (or) failing that, a stamped concrete would hold up well and could be stamped with something interesting: a Shorey Park graphic of some sort.”

“By rearranging the path a bit, the park will be more accessible and used more,” said Miller, Tuesday night.

Miller said the CDC members “had been in touch with Mary Shorey” and said she has been kept abreast of the recommendations being made “all the way.”

Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz read aloud a letter he received from Mary Elizabeth Shorey to him and the selectmen asking them “to consider carefully any changes recommended for Shorey Park.”

Berkowitz read Shorey’s letter aloud, as she was unable to attend the board’s meeting.

“Since the July 21st Bridgton Planning Board meeting discussion on the park was made public,” wrote Shorey, “I have been contacted by a number of individuals who are very concerned about any change that might occur. They see the park as I do — a scenic venue; a place for gatherings of a few people or for individual enjoyment.”

“At the Community Development committee meeting, it was stated that the park is ‘under-utilized’,” Shorey said, in her letter. “I have paid particular attention to the park in recent weeks and have found that, in fact, the park has a great number of people using it — albeit, a few at a time, but still, using it — sitting on the lawn or the benches, walking along the shoreline or the bridge.”

Shorey concluded her comments, stating, “I have seen the Shorey park recommendations. I wonder about the necessity of a small performance area as both the park’s size and the noise factor from Main Hill may not be conducive to performances there. I also feel that a new walkway of stamped concrete depicting a Shorey Park graphic — or any graphic — will take away from the integrity of the park. I know that maintenance and safety improvements are necessary. I simply ask that major changes be questioned.”

Bridgton Public Works Director Jim Kidder responded to Miller’s comments about the footbridge, saying, “…To say it is unsafe is a far stretch — I do take kind of an objection to that statement.”

“It’s just the railing,” Miller replied.

“Well, this is the first I’ve heard that anyone thinks it is unsafe,” said Kidder.

“There are large spaces on the bottom (of the footbridge) on the bottom and in the middle where kids can hang over (the railing),” said Lucia Terry of Perennial Point of View, the firm that maintains the town’s public plantings. “It is a concern,” she said.

“But, it’s existed for 50 years, the way it is now,” Selectmen Chairman Arthur Triglione replied.

“The bridge itself is safe,” Miller said. “No one said the bridge is unsafe — it’s safe.”

“I think (Code Enforcement Officer) Rob (Baker) would say it’s up to code,” said Kidder.

“I think Jim is correct,” CEO Baker stated.

“Mary Shorey is a key player in this,” Triglione stated, saying she should be “kept abreast” of all things pertaining to proposed changes to Shorey Park.

“All of this is going very, very much in the direction that they (the Shoreys) want it to be,” Miller said.

All concurred that Miller, Terry and Kidder will put together a capital improvement plan within the next 60 days for any proposed improvements or changes to Shorey Park, with cost estimates to be included.

“This should pass the public muster and the Shorey muster,” the town manager stated.

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