‘Thank You’ celebration set for May 26

For the “Thank You, Naples” event, which is less than two weeks away, the town is still looking for donations from local businesses. Town Manager Derik Goodine has been compiling complimentary tickets and discount coupons to be given away as prizes to the public during drawings on May 26. Registering for the raffles will be free. To donate: Call the Naples Town Office, 693-6364.  

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Three years ago this fall, a group of 30 people encircled three golden shovels positioned in mounds of Maine dirt.

Those people stood on the site of a future fixed bridge and paved roadway.

During that groundbreaking ceremony in October 2010, Causeway Restoration Committee Chairman Bob Neault predicted a future when Naples’ green space and amphitheater would be a mini-Mecca for arts and entertainment.

In May 2013, those words are coming to fruition.

On the south side of the Bay of Naples Bridge, an irrigation system delivers much needed water to budding trees; the grass is on the ground; and a lineup of live entertainers has been invited to perform at the amphitheater.

Town officials are planning to christen the stage of the amphitheater during a community-oriented event on Sunday, May 26, from noon to dusk.

According to Town Manager Derik Goodine, a monologue from William Shakespeare’s play — in this case, Henry VIII, is a long-held tradition for opening a new stage.

“I like the idea of supporting the music and the arts,” Goodine said.

Actually, the covered structure that will be the permanent stage has yet to be built. However, a stage will be present for this spring’s performers, he said.

“It would be great to have something down there every weekend. We will look like a place that has something going on at all times,” he said.

The May 26 event is being billed as “Thank You, Naples Day,” and it is dedicated to the local taxpayers, who have supported the many improvements on the Causeway, along the Village Green, and at the Naples Town Beach, Goodine said.

“The day will be about the locals getting together to celebrate their community,” he said.

In recent years, the Town of Naples has expanded its public beach by purchasing the adjacent property; adding a permanent structure that offers changing rooms, restrooms, and running water; and upgrading the public dock there. Also on the Village Green, a new Museum and Visitors’ Center was constructed, and a glass bottle museum moved into the vacant, brick structure that once housed travel brochures. Plus, the town bought a new ladder truck for its fire department.

On Tuesday afternoon, Goodine inspected the work being done on the Causeway, in the amphitheater area, where sod had been placed. Late last week, workers from Thirsty Turf installed the irrigation system, which had been completed last fall on the Long Lake side of Route 302.

“The landscaping is looking good. The trees are getting watered,” he said.

The sidewalks and boardwalks have been placed, so the pedestrian pathways tie together.

However, the stage won’t be constructed with a roof until a later date. At a Special Town Meeting this winter, residents approved a zone variance that will allow the structure to be built in the shoreland zone. Essentially, this is permissible because another structure — the old Route 302 used to run through that space.

Goodine said every time he walks along the Causeway, he is approached by another resident or local businessperson with words of praise and excitement about the construction project that started two and one-half years ago.

“It’s only the beginning. As the amphitheater cover comes on, the splash park goes in, the fountain is running, it is going to be awesome,” he said.

The Maine Department of Transportation funded the bridge replacement project; and that construction job — which includes improvements to the Causeway — was awarded to Wyman and Simpson, Inc. The total cost is $9.2 million, while the town shares $405,000 of the expenses.

Naples Selectman Rick Paraschak said the taxpayers of this town have approved funneling funds toward major improvements that have enhanced the town’s public space.

“The taxpayers contributed to the Causeway. Not just the Causeway, but also they have supported the town beach, boat ramp, museum, and the latest fire truck,” he said.

“It’s appreciation for all of that,” Paraschak said.

The event is also being planned “to show that the amphitheater has a diverse usage,” he said.

“There will be performers, ranging from bands to the Lakes Region Community Theater, from individual artists to a Maine humorist,” he said.

“Thank You, Naples Day” will be the first official event held in the amphitheater space. It will be an opportunity to showcase the aesthetic details of the Causeway re-construction project as well as the new bridge, he said.

A scheduled fireworks display in May should be another big draw, Goodine said.

Both Goodine and CRC Chairman Neault commented during the 2010 groundbreaking that the continued culture — and the new infrastructure — would transform the Causeway into a destination.

According to MDOT’s Resident Engineer Craig Hurd, the major road construction work should be wrapped up by early next week, and any work involving lane closures will end before Memorial Day weekend.

Most likely, paving will take place on Monday, May 20, he said. Paving had been scheduled for today and Friday. However, because of a tight calendar, the paving project has been penned in for Monday, May 20, Hurd said.

Lane closures for paving will lengthen traffic delays for drivers; and drivers should find alternate routes, he said.

But, in another two weeks it will be smooth sailing on Main Street.

Even Route 302 is getting spruced up with a new layer of pavement.

On Monday, workers removed one and one-half inches of the surface layer of the pavement that was not up to par, according to Hurd.

The job, which entailed the use of a grinder, took about 10 hours to complete.

“It is from just east of the Causeway Marina to Route 114,” he said.

After the state conducted required standard tests on the pavement, the product was discovered to be not up to standards.

“They take core samples, and test it for different things. The density didn’t pass. (There were) too many voids in the mix,” he said.

“It should be more compact,” Hurd said.

The surface pavement was put down on the road in autumn 2012, he said.

According to Paraschak — who is employed by the MDOT, this occurrence is not entirely uncommon.

“It happens every year. It happens on several projects that MDOT does. Recently, we had one in the Brunswick-Topsam area, and in the Saco area. It happens several times a year in Southern Maine for MDOT,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that it happens. The contractor is aware of our standards. We hate having them do it again,” he said.

“But, it’s for the longevity of the pavement,” Paraschak said.

 

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