Recreation slowly returning to Bridgton Town Hall

 

HOME STRETCH — Portable heaters have been hung at intervals around the gymnasium at the Bridgton Town Hall to provide temporary heat until the new heating system is installed. Meanwhile, some town rec programs have been able to move back into the building, as of this week.

HOME STRETCH — Portable heaters have been hung at intervals around the gymnasium at the Bridgton Town Hall to provide temporary heat until the new heating system is installed. Meanwhile, some town rec programs have been able to move back into the building, as of this week.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

The furnace is on order and should arrive soon, and for Bridgton Recreation Director Gary Colello, it can’t be soon enough.

All summer and fall, most town recreation programs at Town Hall have been on hold while workers from Dotens Construction have been busy shoring up the foundation and walls of the historic North High Street building. Once the cold weather set in, the town had to set up heaters on the walls while awaiting delivery and installation of a new propane-fired HVAC system.

Colello has been anxiously awaiting word that the gym will be open for recreational use again. Some of the recreation programs have continued by using temporary space elsewhere, but others have simply stopped altogether.

“I understand the frustration of finding temporary homes or not even holding your program since early June. I have the same frustrations as all of you,” he wrote in a progress report to program participants. “Just two days ago, I had to cancel the Halloween Party in Bridgton which has been going on for almost 30 years.”

The Halloween party was moved to smaller quarters in the downstairs of the Bridgton Municipal Complex.

The new heating system should be up and running by the end of December, but for now the portable heaters are keeping the building warm. The presence of the heaters, served by extension cords running along the walls, has meant that only low-impact activities can take place inside Town Hall.

NEW STEPS AND RAILING have been built at the entrance to Town Hall. The enclosure at left has also been removed.

NEW STEPS AND RAILING have been built at the entrance to Town Hall. The enclosure at left has also been removed.

As of Monday, Tai Chi, Jumping Janes, aerobics and Zumba were able to resume meeting in Town Hall. Pickleball, table tennis, basketball and Toddler Playgroup will not be able to operate as of yet, because either wires are in the way or it is just not safe for that specific exercise, Colello said.

“I am hoping to be completely open soon. Please understand it is out of my hands when it comes to the progress of the building,” Colello said.

One benefit to the programs that resulted from the construction was a complete do-over of the storage area. Most of the cabinets had to be torn down to address the foundation issues, and Colello asked program leaders to come in and go through all of their equipment, such as mats, curtains and fending, throwing out equipment that no longer worked or was otherwise useless. Each program was then given a designated area for storage and leaders were issued a new key and lock.

Along with new entrance steps, the work will include installation of a new card system to replace the old code system for gaining entry to the building. Town officials have long recognized that the old system leaves the building less than secure, since so many people have access to the code.

Colello asked program participants to be patient, and to understand that there may still be more interruptions from construction before the work is complete. He said users will be pleasantly surprised when they are able to exercise on a gym floor that no longer has a noticeable dip in one corner.

“We are in the home stretch,” he said.

 

 

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