Snippets: New trail planned for Pondicherry Park

THE TRAIL SYSTEM within Bridgton’s Pondicherry Park will include a new branch off the Willett Brook Trail (bottom right) that will link Stevens Brook Elementary School to the planned Maine Lake Science Center off Willett Road.

THE TRAIL SYSTEM within Bridgton’s Pondicherry Park will include a new branch off the Willett Brook Trail (bottom right) that will link Stevens Brook Elementary School to the planned Maine Lake Science Center off Willett Road.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

An Eagle Scout is laying out a new 800-foot-long trail that will connect Stevens Brook Elementary School with the new Maine Lake Science Center.

Lakes Environmental Association Executive Director Peter Lowell shared that news as he received permission recently from Bridgton Selectmen to cross 300 feet of town-owned land in Pondicherry Park in creating the new trail. An education room will be part of the new science center, he said, so it’s important to have a trail with easy access leading directly to the school. The public will also be able to use the trail to visit a park information display at the science center.

The conservation agreement that LEA negotiated in turning the park land over to the town allows for a maximum of three miles of trail, and currently 2.6 miles of trail exist. The 300 feet of new trail within the park property represents a 14% expansion of the trail system, said Lowell. The new trail will branch off from the Willett Brook Trail.

Eventually, LEA will likely be requesting another trail expansion so that the science center can be reached by another route within the park. The association will assume responsibility for maintaining that section of the trail.

Lowell said a generous gift from a donor in August allowed LEA to buy the 17-acre Flint property off Willett Road for the center. However, the project will require a $1.2 million fundraising campaign in order to be realized. Lowell said the campaign includes the hiring of a director through 2020, and he added that former LEA staffer Bridie McGreavy has tentatively agreed to take on the director’s post.

No concessions on Creamery St.

Vanessa Jones will have to hope the “Children at Play” signs on each end of Creamery Street are sufficient to caution drivers who routinely use the side street off Main Hill as a shortcut. Her hope that selectmen would agree to make the street one-way, or at least restrict traffic to those living on the street, was not realized at the board’s last meeting.

Selectmen pointed out that a “Local Traffic Only” sign would not be legally enforceable. “If they live in Bridgton, they consider themselves local,” said Selectman Chairman Bernie King. Similarly, posting “No Through Traffic” signs would be difficult to enforce, the board agreed.

Town Manager Bob Peabody, in a memo outlining possible responses to Jones’ safety concerns, said a sidewalk was one option, but that it would cost around $30,000. He also noted that “Changing the actual flow of traffic on the street could prove problematic for safety reasons and possibly for the street residents.”

Selectman Doug Taft noted that several intown streets are narrow and require careful driving, and that giving special consideration to Creamery Street would be a “slippery slope.” The vote to take no action was 4-1, with King opposed.

Woods Pond Beach

Selectmen also declined a request by Woods Pond resident Barry Denofrio to drop the level of the pond early this year, so that residents could repair erosion problems. Denofrio said one lake resident has a permit ready to go, and Woods Pond Beach lost a foot of sand this spring, so work needs to be done to rake the sand back. The work would be done entirely by volunteers, he said, at no cost to the town.

But the board agreed with Public Works Director Jim Kidder, who said the lake is lowered every five years the day after Columbus Day, which this year will be on Oct. 13. Kidder said the lake level is now 3.9 and is usually 4.2, and he saw no reason to make an exception this year.

Wastewater system

Selectmen heard from Anne Krieg, Director of Planning, Economic and Community Development, that she has received information about possible funding options for expansion of the downtown wastewater system from several sources, including Rural Development and the state Department of Economic Development. Because the information involved possible land negotiations, selectmen met in executive session to discuss the details of those talks. No action was taken.

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