Salmon Point beachgoers could face longer walk to lake

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

For beachgoers trying to escape the heat or simply spend a carefree day at Salmon Point, the walk to one’s favorite spot in the sand might be a little longer.

To address safety concerns, town officials are looking to develop a new public parking spot at the town-owned campground/beach on Long Lake.

A new space would accommodate 30 cars and eliminate a variety of safety concerns and issues, Bridgton Town Manager Bob Peabody and campground manager Bob Morse told selectmen Tuesday night.

Morse, who has served as facility manager for the past two years, has heard campers express complaints regarding noise and littering by beachgoers, and voiced concerns about safety, especially young children riding bicycles, when the existing parking lot is congested.

One solution is to develop a bigger parking lot. Peabody said the site of the new parking space would require a little more walking by beachgoers.

The walking distance from the current lot is 360 feet to the beach and 850 feet to the Point.

The new lot would be 870 feet from the beach and 1,270 feet to the Point.

“What’s interesting is that the six new lots we put in are 910 feet to the beach and 1,400 feet to the Point,” Peabody said.

Selectman Bear Zaidman says its common for beachgoers to walk a fair distance to access state park beaches, and sees no problem having to travel a little longer distance from the new parking lot to Salmon Point beach.

“As long as the path is safe and accessible, I don’t see a problem with it,” said Zaidman, who added that better signage is needed throughout the campground/beach and some handicap spots should be retained at the existing parking site.

In other selectmen’s notes:

Benches, yes or no? Selectman Bernie King feels Veterans Park looks much nicer these days with the addition of more flowers. Another upgrade suggested by caretaker Lucia Terry is the addition of five to seven benches.

If past experience is any indication, King is skeptical whether placing benches there will be a good idea. He cited past issues caused by juveniles “hanging out,” including poor behavior which forced some seniors off the sidewalk and “into the street.”

Selectman Bob McHatton concurred, saying the negative actions that have been associated with the skate park could be applied to the benches.

Selectman Bear Zaidman, however, feels benches in the park would fit the town’s push for a “workable downtown.” If juveniles create a problem, Zaidman suggested that police step in and possibly issue paperwork prohibiting offenders from being in the park.

McHatton suggested that the town place three benches at the park. “Try it and if it doesn’t work, we can always remove them,” he said.

Town Manager Peabody noted that the park improvements are not part of the streetscape project. He added that a crosswalk in that area would be much larger in size than others in town.

“That area has already been identified as a high use by pedestrians, so a large crosswalk will be created as a focal point,” Peabody said.

Land swap. Clarifying a property line between land owned by Susan Hatch at the intersection of Highland Road and Kennard Street and town-owned land, where the current boat wash is positioned, will likely end in a small land swap between the two parties.

Jan Boucher, president of Cornerstone Professional Land Surveying Inc. of Bowdoin, presented his findings to selectmen.

To address about 2,000 square feet the town is using as part of the boat wash area, Hatch would receive about 2,600 square feet of currently town-owned property at another point of the lot. Boucher also proposed that an existing fieldstone wall, which was previously a “historic marker (the original line dating back to the 1800s),” would again be used as a boundary line.

Selectmen authorized the town manager to work with Boucher and Hatch to develop a legal description of the boundaries.

If one can, why not others? Trying to attract the attention of motorists traveling Main Street, Community H.E.L.P. sought to utilize a Main Street town sign directing folks in their direction, much like Adult Ed added their marker on a sign near the municipal complex.

Each time Community H.E.L.P., which is located on Nulty Street, brought the idea to Code Officer Robert Baker, he said, “no.”

“The Town of Bridgton Sign Ordinance regulates on-premise signs. A Main Street sign would not be on-premise. For off-premise signs, the applicant must follow the Maine DOT regulations for directional signs,” Baker wrote in a memo to selectmen. “Just because Community H.E.L.P. is a nonprofit organization does not exempt them from the town ordinance. Nonprofit is only a tax status.”

Peabody explained that Adult Ed tagged along with the town’s sign on Chase Street was allowed because the school program had entered into a mutual agreement with Bridgton and utilized municipal complex space.

Baker added that the issue should go before the Appeals Board, not selectmen. Selectmen took no action on Community H.E.L.P.’s request.

Market agreement in place. It took some negotiation and fine-tuning, but a workable “rules and regulations” for Bridgton’s Outdoor Market is in place.

Peabody worked with Bridgton Farmers Market spokeswoman Brenna Mae Thomas-Goggins of Patch Farm on the guidelines, which included fees and insurance. The Farmers Market will collect the fee for the season ($700) and insurance policy information.

Selectmen made two adjustments, one being that no electrical cords will run across sidewalks, and two, that music could not exceed 93 decibels. There was a question of some musicians using amplifiers, rather than going acoustic. Thomas-Goggins said music would not begin until after 9 a.m., understanding “there are people who may want to sleep in.”

Tax break for seniors. Many longtime, senior residents struggle to stay in their homes due to rising costs and limited financial resources.

Selectman Bear Zaidman feels the town should find ways to keep the elderly in their homes. One way would be enacting a Senior Property Tax Assistance Program.

Cumberland (population, 7,211) has had great success running such a program, which is open to those who are 62 years of age or more, have a homestead in Cumberland, have been a resident of Cumberland for at least 10 years, and have a combined household income that does not exceed $69,000.

Zaidman noted to the board that the criteria “figures” can be adjusted. One way to sell the program to taxpayers, Zaidman added, would be for the town to reduce or cut funding to outside agencies and use that money, along with CDBG grants, to subsidize the program.

Peabody pointed out that Cumberland Town Manager William Shane would gladly meet with the Bridgton board to discuss the program in a workshop session.

Salvage yard permitted, with conditions. Despite some concerns raised by a local resident, Code Officer Rob Baker recommended that selectmen approve a automobile graveyard/junkyard permit to Paul Gallinari.

Baker inspected the Powerhouse Road site, and while he “did not check all of the vehicles there,” the ones he did look at were in compliance.

In his memo to selectmen, Baker said the site is 500 feet from a well, and the town’s attorney (Agnieszka A. Dixon) said the 300-foot setback from a cemetery does not apply.

The attorney said the setback applies to new permits — “that is, to permits issued after the 2003 effective date of this (state) provision. Thus, the setback requirement would not apply to facilities established prior to 2003.” Based on information provided, Gallinari’s facility “appears to have been in existence since last least the early 1990s and is likely legally nonconforming with respect to this cemetery setback.”

“It is hard to tell what is the separation between the excavation business and the graveyard/junkyard business. He does have some vehicles for sale, which tells me it is a viable business,” Baker wrote. “I did not see any oils or gas on the ground or in rain puddles. To my knowledge, all fluids have been contained and recycled in oil furnaces.”

Baker did recommend as a condition of approval that Gallinari be required “to take all junk vehicles not being serviced, that abut Powerhouse Road, be taken down to the junkyard area or a fence meeting state and select board standards be installed within 60 days” or the permit will be deemed null and void.

Back to square one. Due to “improper notification,” the town is back to square one in addressing what it considers a dangerous building on Willis Park Road.

The owner, Benjamin Guiliani Sr., had previously agreed to demolish the structure. While a front-end loader is at the property, no work has been done to this point.

Code Officer Baker said Guiliani will not complete the task by the self-imposed deadline of June 23, since the loader has a flat tire and won’t be in service immediately.

In an e-mail to Baker, Guiliani said, “We are in the process of razing 218 Willis Park Road in its entirety. However, it is pertinent to my company’s reputation and the safety of anyone involved that we do so according to the regulations set forth by the DEP, which supersede any and all town orders. We are currently in the process of identifying any and all hazardous materials, as well as removing asphalt shingles prior to burning the building.”

So, the town is restarting the process of deeming the 218 Willis Park Road structure as a dangerous building. Selectmen voted to send Guiliani, who has a South Portland address, a “notice of hearing” regarding the matter.

If the building has not been demolished, a public hearing will be held on Tuesday, June 27 at 6 p.m. After the hearing, if selectmen deem the structure as a “dangerous building,” they would order that the building be demolished at the owner’s expense.

Upgrades at beaches. With the arrival of summer-like temperatures this week, many flocked to local beaches. They not only found relief from the heat, but also some improvements to facilities.

At Plummer’s Landing, a new float and ladder have been installed. The town has also ordered a new swimming line. County workers were scheduled to rake the beach and clean up the area yesterday. Workers also scraped and painted picnic tables on the Salmon Point Beach point.

At Woods Pond, the new bathroom facility is now in service.

At Salmon Point, construction of a new bathroom facility is underway. Porta-potties have been placed there for the public’s use during construction.

Another change at Salmon Point will be the public parking area. Parking will be relocated, removing it from the campground.

“There have been ongoing issues having the lot within the campground, including noise, congestion when the lot is full, littering and smoking,” Town Manager Bob Peabody reported.

National Night Out. In an attempt to foster stronger relationships between Bridgton’s police and the community, the Youth Safety Day planning team will hold a National Night Out on Aug. 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Highland Lake Beach.

“It provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances,” wrote Ashley Hutter, BPD’s Public Safety administrative assistant.

The event is held nationwide on the first Tuesday in August.

Hutter noted that group is considering several ideas for the Night Out.

Remembering John. Town officials noted the loss of John Likshis, station manager at Lake Region TV, who recently passed away following a long illness. Peabody referred to Likshis as a “great resource” to the town.

Next meeting: Selectmen will meet on Tuesday, June 27 at 5 p.m.

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