Residents seek to close streets to tractor trailer travel

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Julie Harmon was worried about what could happen with more and more tractor trailer trucks traveling along narrow residential roadways like Cottage, Church, Gage, Fowler and Walker Streets.

“We have an ongoing problem with tractor trailer trucks trying to come up these streets and failing to be able to make the corners to turn on to any of these streets,” said Harmon, who has resided on Cottage Street for the past 32 years. “In the summer, they run over lawns…I had to reseed my lawn three times this past summer.”

The day she sent a letter to Bridgton selectmen to voice concerns about these trucks, a food service truck attempted to climb Cottage Street during bad weather, and jackknifed into her driveway causing damage to Harmon’s property.

Neighbor Jackie Bacon told selectmen Tuesday night had Harmon been home at the time of the accident, her vehicle would have likely been crushed.

Harmon requested selectmen to post the five intown streets, much like the town has done on Dugway Road. While Harmon has no problem with delivery trucks or heating oil trucks, the larger “18-wheelers” and “5th wheels” should be prohibited, she said.

“It’s causing a huge problem,” she said.

Bacon added that the bigger trucks create more noise in the residential neighborhood.

Public Works Director Jim Kidder agreed that the five roads are very narrow for tractor trailers to travel, and pointed out that the town’s traffic ordinance does allow selectmen the authority to post certain roadways.

Selectman Bear Zaidman initially proposed to post the five roads as “No Through Trucks.”

Before a second could be gained, Board chairman Lee Eastman interjected that officials should seek out comments from business owners. Selectmen will discuss the matter at their next meeting, set for March 12.

On another traffic matter, resident Greg Watkins suggested that the town consider placing a “Yield” or some other sign near the Smith Avenue bridge. The bridge, which spans Stevens Brook, is quite narrow and difficult for two vehicles to cross at the same time.

Watkins suggested the sign be placed on the Mill Street section since it may be difficult in winter conditions for a vehicle traveling down the hill on Smith Avenue to come to a stop before the bridge to allow another car or truck to pass.

Selectmen suggested that Kidder and Police Chief Rick Stillman take a look and make a recommendation.

In other selectmen’s meeting news:

Take a look before bidding. Before HEB Engineering puts the streetscape project out to public bid, selectmen want to take a final look to be sure that Bridgton taxpayers are “getting what they asked for.”

Initially, Colin Dinsmore of HEB looked to send the project out to bid on March 11, but will push that date back so selectmen can look over key components at their March 12 meeting.

“It’s important for the public to be able to see it,” Chairman Lee Eastman said. “We want to make it right.”

Dinsmore said the project will cover 55 pages, but will provide officials a report covering the main facets, like street light posts, sidewalks and crosswalks.

Selectman Bear Zaidman questioned who would serve as Clerk of the Works to “be sure that the town gets what it is paying for,” and if a major change needs to occur during the construction phase, how will the decision be made? Dinsmore will oversee the project, and any major change will be presented to town officials for review before moving forward.

Dinsmore noted that work would be shutdown prior to the Fourth of July and the town’s busy summer season.

“We won’t leave a mess,” he said. “We’ll tidy things up and resume work after Labor Day, and then wrap things up in the fall.”

Run for office. Nomination papers are available starting this Friday, March 1 for the following municipal positions:

• Selectman (1 position) for a three-year term

• Planning Board (2) for a three-year-term

• Planning Board alternate (1) for a three-year term

• SAD 61 director (1) for a two-year term

• SAD 61 director (2) for a three-year term

• Water District trustee (1) for a three-year term.

The deadline for filing nomination papers with the town clerk is Friday, April 12.

Filling vacancies. After selectmen made a public plea, several candidates stepped forward to fill vacancies on the town’s Board of Appeals.

Selectmen unanimously named Kevin Raday as an alternate and voted 4-1 (Selectman Carmen Lone against) to appoint Greg Watkins as a BOA regular member.

Lone initially made a motion to name Donna Joss as the regular member, but there was no second. When Lone suggested Joss as an alternate, Joss “respectfully declined.” Selectmen then voted 5-0 to appoint Kappy Sprenger as an alternate.

Fire Chief search. To date, the town has received 35 applications for the fire chief position. Current Chief Steve Fay plans to retire in May. The application deadline is Friday, March 1.

Dedicated to Ray. When Ray Turner — a mechanical engineer — retired in 2001, he wanted to spend the rest of his time in a place he loved, Bridgton. He and his wife, Judy, moved here in 2003, replacing Judy’s family-owned camp on Long Lake with a year-round home. Ray fully immersed himself in town happenings, serving on the Wastewater and Economic Development Committees, as well as the Bridgton Community Center Board. He was also a Bridgton United Methodist Church trustee.

Ray passed away on Dec. 22, 2018 at the age of 82.

Selectman Carmen Lone suggested that this year’s town report be dedicated in Ray’s memory. Board members agreed, 5-0.

Showing the way. Speaking on behalf of the Bridgton Historical Society, trustee Julie Whelchel requested that the town add a sign on Main Street to indicate the location of the Society’s Museum on Gibbs Avenue.

Currently, a “Gibbs Street Parking” sign exists at the corner of Gibbs Avenue and Main Street.

“The Bridgton Historical Society conducts valuable work that supports the physical and cultural heritage of Bridgton, and we believe that the addition of this sign would heighten our visibility and create broader access to the Society’s museum on Gibbs Avenue,” Whelchel said in a letter to selectmen. “It is our hope that the addition of this sign could be considered in the 2019 budgeting process so that visitors and the community could start to benefit from the way-finding signage during this calendar year.”

There was a question whether way-finding sign creator Nelle Ely was still available to make the additional sign to add to the current post. If not, Whelchel has checked with Muddy River Signs of Bridgton, and found that a similar sign could be made for about $200.

“Without signage, you wouldn’t know it (the BHS Museum) is there,” Chairman Eastman said.

Unable to initially access the town’s website to check the sign ordinance, Planning Board member Deb Brusini suggested that Code Officer Rob Baker review the request to see if it complies to town rules. Later in the meeting, Brusini was able to access the ordinance, and found that Selectman Bear Zaidman was correct that the ordinance does not apply to the town if the Town of Bridgton installs the sign.

Selectmen placed the request on their next meeting agenda.

Thanks for keeping hydrants clean. The Bridgton Fire Department thanks all citizens who have assisted in keeping fire hydrants clear of snow this winter.

Thanks also go to the following for taking part in the hydrant detail: Deputy Chiefs Paul Field Jr. and Eric Field, Captains Brad Vincent, Tom Harriman and Nathan Frank, and firefighters Adam Cook, Ernest Field, Dalton Hulsey, Jordan Libby, Richard Meek, Doug Ross, Jason Tausek and Chaplain/firefighter Mike Zullo.

Raffle winner. As part of the Bridgton Ice Rink re-opening on Friday, Feb. 15, a raffle for a pair of ice skates was held. The winner was Rebekah Knights.

Tip of the hat. Chuck Renneker gave a tip of the hat to members of the Land Use & Zoning Committee for their work in developing the proposed Land Use Ordinance that will go before voters this June (check the town’s website to review the proposal).

“They did a heck of a job,” Renneker told selectmen. “They are bright and talented…These people brought their talents and contributed. You should be proud of them.”

Committee members include Ken Gibbs, Bill O’Connor, Lucia Terry and Bill Vincent, along with Renneker.

Renneker also cited the efforts of Planning Board member Deb Brusini, who worked with the group as a PB liaison.

Brusini, who is chairman of the Ordinance Review Committee, reported to selectmen that six ordinances that the group was instructed to review will be sent to the town’s attorney. Revisions/amendments to these ordinances could go before voters in June, if ready, or in November.

Brusini also made a pitch to the general public that additional members are needed on the ORC. Anyone interested should contact the town office.

Time to talk about recycling. When Chairman Lee Eastman took part in a tour of the ecomaine facility, he was very proud to hear how Bridgton is somewhat of the “poster child” when it comes to recycling.

The town continues to receive high grades for keeping contaminants out of the recyclable stream. However, despite the outstanding efforts of Transfer Station staff and residents, Bridgton is likely to be charged the same tonnage fee as other municipalities that pale in comparison to what Bridgton has achieved from a recycling standpoint. Selectman Bear Zaidman finds that “not fair.”

“No other town comes close to what Bridgton does,” Zaidman said.

Selectmen plan to set a date to meet with the town’s Recycling Committee.

License approved. With a condition that plumbing needs to be installed and inspected, selectmen approved a victualer license to Al Bottone IV and Matthew DiBenedetto to open Happy Valley Popcorn Shop at 257 Main Street, Suite 1.

Plow truck repaired. With the number of snowstorms hitting Bridgton this year, Public Works Director Jim Kidder can ill afford to have one of his plow trucks out of service.

One did go down, and the town had to act fast to get it back in service. Town Manager Bob Peabody approved taking $16,000 from the Equipment Reserve Account for the repair of the plow truck’s motor. Work by Cummins Sales & Service in Scarborough totaled $15,138.10. It took four days to rebuild the motor, and the plow truck missed just one storm. It was back in service last Friday.

Town rules call for the manager to seek board of selectmen vote for expenditures over $10,000. So, selectmen “ratified” the expenditure Tuesday night.

Roads posted. Selectmen supported Kidder’s recommendation to post the following roads for load limits March 1 through May 1:

South Bridgton: Burnham Road, Willis Park Road, Ingalls Road, Fosterville Road (to end), Winn Road, Swamp Road, North Road, Raspberry Lane, Camp Pondicherry Road, Wildwood and Moose Cove Lodge.

West Bridgton: Mountain Road, Hio Ridge Road, Sam Ingalls Road, Whitney Road, Highland Pines Road, Millbrook Road, Harmon Road, Isaac Stevens Road, Kilgore Road, Cedar Drive, East Pondicherry Road, West Pondicherry Road and South Bay Road (Knights Hill Development).

North Bridgton: Highland Road, Chadbourne Hill Road, Upper Ridge Road, Middle Ridge Road, Monk Road, Kimball Road, Highland Point Development.

Village Area: Kansas Road, Pond Road, Dugway Road, Mt. Henry Road, Zion Hill Road.

Quit claim deed. Selectmen accepted payment for taxes owed (2016-2018 for the amount of $21,691.51) and approved a municipal quit-claim deed to Christine Ryan for property on Noncarrow Way.

Eviction process started. Despite a request by Jo-Anne Connolly seeking a “little more time,” selectmen voted 5-0 to authorize legal counsel to begin an eviction lawsuit (Rule 80D) against Connolly/First and Last Resort Motel property pursuant to tax lien foreclosure.

Connolly did indicate to selectmen that tenants still reside at the property.

Next board meetings. March 12 and March 26 at 5 p.m.

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