Selectmen notes: Bridgton names first full-time fire chief
By Wayne E. Rivet
As a career firefighter of 40 years, Stephen Fay knows the most valuable asset is people.
Before Fay made any comments regarding his selection of being Bridgton’s first full-time fire chief, he asked for a moment of silence in memory of Captain Mike Field, who passed away Sept. 17.
Fay told selectmen that the loss is not only devastating to the Field family, but also to the Bridgton Fire Department family.
“We don’t take it lightly,” said Fay on the loss of such an active member of the department.
Fay started his firefighting career in Cranston, R.I., as a volunteer. His interest in public service moved him to the appointment as a “floater” with the City of Warwick’s fire department in 1986. Over the years, Fay moved up the ladder, earning the positions of lieutenant and captain, and working as part of a hazards team. In 2011 as a captain/co-commander, Fay was the senior most member of the Warwick crew of 220 firefighters.
“Now, I am the most junior member of the Bridgton Fire Department,” Fay told selectmen, who gave him a round of applause as the newest member of their staff.
Town Manager Robert Peabody said Fay will have an office space at the Municipal Complex. His annual salary is $50,000 plus benefits.
In other selectmen’s meeting news:
Where to apply grant money? Anne Krieg, the town’s director of planning, economic and community development, asked selectmen what projects and/or programs they might place at the top of their “to do” list for 2017 using Community Development Block Grant funds.
CDBG funds can be used for municipal facilities, which include, but are not limited to, work in the right-of-way, as well as town-owned buildings.
Krieg developed a project list which included: more work at the Town Hall, Town Center (recreation), streetscape final design work, roof at the Bridgton Community Center, fire station work and construction of a parking lot at 55 Main Street (a residential home there is slated for demolition in 2017).
Programs could include a recreation camp, police programs addressing the opioid crisis and/or domestic violence, the Bridgton Community Center’s Navigator Program and the Bridgton Food Pantry.
The town could have $110,000 at its disposal, so what projects might the town fathers pursue?
Selectmen zeroed in on a couple of projects:
- The skate park. All agreed, the facility needs to be moved, possibly to the park area adjacent to the Bridgton Police Department where supervision could be greatly improved.
Officials, however, want to find out whether the site could handle the skating area, not wanting to infringe upon the youth playground, which attracts many downtown families. Krieg noted that the town has made improvements at other playgrounds, but not the one near the BPD. An upgrade in 2017 could be part of the next CDBG project list.
Selectmen also want some study done regarding the cost of building the new skate park, as well as whether sufficient interest exists if the town is to make a financial investment in a new facility.
Another project eyed is creating parking space at 55 Main Street. Selectmen would like to see the town enter into a partnership with the adjacent property owner to develop parking space much like what happened with Downeast Industries/Magic Lantern owner Frank Howell.
Krieg said CDBG funds could be used to dress up that new parking area with the installation of benches and trees.
Selectmen pointed to growing business success along the Main Hill front, which will benefit from more parking space.
As for a new Rec Center, Krieg said CDBG funds could be used for a feasibility study and design work. However, the town has been told by CDBG program administrator Aaron Shapiro that there must be a strong inclination that the town will build such a facility if funds are used in this manner.
Current projects in the work that could be addressed in 2017 include new lighting at the Town Hall and streetscape efforts along Main Street.
Selectman Bear Zaidman suggested that the town contact Efficiency Maine regarding the lighting situation, since programs exist to upgrade lighting with more efficient fixtures at a low cost.
Krieg will be conversing with Maine Department of Transportation officials regarding streetscape matters, including how to address pedestrian safety on Main Hill and Pondicherry Square. Since DOT funds will be tapped as part of this work, the state is part of the conversation as to how these areas are possibly redesigned. Whatever options are developed, they will be brought back to the town for review and discussion either at a workshop session or public hearing, Krieg said.
Finally, Krieg reported that the Community Center roof is in need of major repair. At this time, the town owns the property and is responsible for repairs, so selectmen could put this project at the top of the list.
Selectman Zaidman, however, asked Town Manager Bob Peabody where conversations stand regarding the building’s future ownership.
Peabody was to meet with BCC members this week to discuss whether the town and BCC will continue its current arrangement — a memorandum of understanding — or whether it could be altered with the BCC possibly taking over ownership.
The town will look to narrow its CDBG plan at a future meeting.
Still very dry. Although the area received a good soaking over the weekend, dry conditions prevail.
Deputy Town Manager Georgiann Fleck reported that some of the public water supplies have been closed down, including Salmon Point, for the season due to drought conditions.
“Central Fire Station has an outside spigot available to the public, but because this is a widespread problem, please be respectful of others and limit your use,” Fleck said.
Maine Emergency Management is asking that anyone whose well has gone dry to please call 2-1-1 to report it so officials can monitor how widespread the drought problem is.
Just one applicant. The town recently advertised for on-call help at the Bridgton Transfer Station, and as of Tuesday’s filing deadline, just one application had been received.
Road closure to move a house. The Nathan Church House will be moving its new location (the corner of Main and Church Streets) this coming Wednesday, Nov. 2.
Beginning at 8:45 a.m., the historic house — owned by the Rufus Porter Museum — will be moved from its present North High Street location.
To make this move, the town will close North High Street, Main Street (from Depot Street to the monument), a portion of Church Street and part of the Bridgton Public Library parking lot.
Detours during this time for people heading east on Route 302 will be Hio Ridge Road to Route 117 to Sandy Creek Road, back to Route 302. For people traveling west, South High Street to Route 117 to Hio Ridge Road, back to Route 302.
Helping with construction. Looking to create a better look at Woods Pond Beach, several residents pitched in to donate $450 to be used toward replacement of the picnic table roof, as well as covering the structure’s base concrete footings.
Donors included Carol Ayer, Mary H. Maxwell, Daniel Dam, Melissa and Steven LeBlanc and the Frances R. Stern Family Trust.
Hancock Lumber also joined the donor effort by offering seven bundles of roofing shingles.
Giving the town a hand. County workers will be here Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 to do some fall cleanup work at Salmon Point.
No heart and soul. Feeling the town got a strong feel from residents regarding how they would like to see the town developed over the next several years during Comprehensive Plan work, selectmen decided 4–0 to decline enrollment in the Orton Foundation Heart & Soul community building program.
Quick hearings. A public hearing regarding the local referendum questions on banning consumer fireworks and allowing the Farmers’ Market to use green space on Depot Street lasted just four minutes.
Selectman Bear Zaidman asked Police Chief Richard Stillman what impact the fireworks ban might have on police services if the referendum question passes.
With 64 square miles to cover, Chief Stillman said enforcement “could be a challenge,” but did note that if the department received several complaints about a certain property owner, “we could certainly work with that individual on a change of behavior.”
Selectmen Bernie King and Bob McHatton hoped the general public read the board’s guest column in last week’s News regarding their position on relocating the Farmers’ Market, off the green to a spot behind the Bridgton Community Center. McHatton added, “I don’t believe it is in the best interest of the Town of Bridgton” to place the Farmers’ Market on the Depot Street greens.
Work satisfactorily completed. Code Enforcement Officer Robbie Baker inspected a property at 342 Main Street, and found that Betty and Anthony Numberg had addressed a variety of code problems (including plumbing and electrical), and deemed it fit for occupancy.
Selectmen accepted payment of $1,549.73 on a sewer bill from the Numbergs, and approved a quit claim deed to the couple.
The town had foreclosed on the property due to a sewer lien.
Wiser chosen. Selectmen confirmed the appointment of Marita Wiser as Warden for the Nov. 8 general/referendum election.
Lopez resigns. Mark Lopez has resigned as a member of the Community Development Committee.
“With my recent appointment to the Capital Improvement Committee, I do not foresee having sufficient time to continue serving on the CDC. I have enjoyed working with the other members of the committee through the years and will be available as a resource should the committee need my input,” wrote Lopez in his letter of resignation.
Next selectmen’s meetings will be held on Nov. 8 and Nov. 22.