Scout, builder partner to replace torched beachfront storage unit

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

When vandals burned down a storage shed at Highland Lake Beach, it made Kevin Tarr and Hannah Reid mad.

The two will now partner to make a serious wrong a compelling right.

Tarr is a contractor and lifelong resident of Bridgton. When he heard about the fire, Tarr contacted Bridgton Rec Director Gary Colello and offered his assistance (free of charge) with rebuilding the shed if the town supplied the materials.

Reid knew firsthand how devastating the fire was. Not only did the town lose an estimated $2,785 in equipment from lifeguard tubes to life jackets to kickboards and first aid kits, the swim lesson staff lost a place of refuge when storms rolled in. Reid served as a volunteer member of the summer swim staff.

She is also a local Girl Scout Troop member. When it came time for her to select a community project to earn her Silver Award — the highest honor for a Cadet — Reid had the perfect idea — help rebuild and restock the beach storage shed by raising money through various events such as a spaghetti supper at the Community Center, kettle dinners and a Zumbathon.

Her role will also include the title of “Clerk of the Work.” She will team up with Tarr as they discuss with Colello in coming weeks what type of structure will be built. She will work through the “town processes,” including formally presenting the idea to selectmen (which she did Tuesday night), obtaining simulated permits, working with town staff and coordinating matters with the contractor.

Tarr and Reid appeared before Bridgton selectmen Tuesday night, and were applauded for their community pride and efforts.

While Reid said the new shed could use shelving to better organize and store items, Tarr added that the structure may include a farmer’s porch and seating space inside for those situations that swim instructors need to escape stormy elements.

“We need to talk more,” he said. “We’ll see where it goes.”

“It is very fascinating to watch this project develop. We had an act of vandalism that was relatively extreme compared to other acts of vandalism we have experienced. The amount of people who have reached out — we have received contacts from across the country including Wisconsin, California and Washington — to see how they could help speaks volumes of Bridgton and the lasting impact it leaves on people who live and visit here,” wrote Colello in his memo to town officials. “Losing the equipment and shed was unfortunate. However, the story behind this reconstruction is just another great opportunity to show why Bridgton is a great place to live and work.”

Colello noted that The Cap Memorial Inc. — a local nonprofit group that has donated funds to help area recreation departments and school programs purchase needed equipment — is interested in allocating money to replace as much swim equipment as possible.

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Town Manager Bob Peabody said, “It’s really heartwarming seeing two people standing up here and showing they care about their town and what being a good citizen is all about.”

In other selectmen’s meeting news:

  • Another good buy. Fire Chief Steve Fay recently purchased four completely refurbished airpacks for $1,700, compared to $6,000 for a single new unit, after being given a trade-in of $1,030 for some old equipment.
  • Get your surveys in. Derik Goodine continues to go door-to-door as part of a wastewater salary survey. He is either speaking directly with residents, or if the homeowner is away, Goodine is leaving a survey to be filled out and mailed back to the town (a stamped envelope is included).

“I would urge those that have received surveys to return them to the town as soon as possible,” Peabody said. “Gathering the information is extremely important as it will affect the amount of grant money (which we don’t have to pay back) the town is awarded for the wastewater expansion.”

  • Signs repaired. The first group of wayfinding signs have been repaired by Nelle Ely, and will soon be reinstalled by the town’s Public Works Department.
  • Island open. Recent high winds downed a few more trees on Sabattis Island, but Public Works was able to clean up the mess enabling public access.
  • Time for a new look? Black or green? Public Works painted a few of the light posts near the town office black and replaced the lights with LED bulbs (for which the town was able to receive rebates from Efficiency Maine). Some globes were also replaced.

“It’s a nice change,” Selectman Bob McHatton said.

Peabody noted that residents will be asked whether the posts should stay green or be changed to black as part of the streetscape project.

  • Thanks for selecting Bridgton. Selectman Bear Zaidman proposed that the town send a plaque to new businesses as a welcome and a thank you for choosing to locate in Bridgton. The board approved the motion.
  • Holiday closure. The town office, Public Works and transfer station will be closed for Thanksgiving and the following Friday.
  • Next meeting. The next selectmen’s meeting is set for Nov. 28. Upcoming meetings are Dec. 12 and Dec. 26.


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