Town faces lawsuit over Salmon Point Road use

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Like many people, Carol Martini dislikes the path beachgoers must now take to get to the Salmon Point public beach.

Residents complained about the longer hike to the waterfront.

Martini is seeking court action against the town for instructing the general public to use the private way — a portion of Salmon Point Road adjacent to Long Lake.

Martini purchased her Long Lake parcel in September 1989.

In Count 1, Martini seeks a declaratory judgment that Salmon Point Road is a private way, declare that defendant (Town of Bridgton) has no legal right of access, require the town to cease all actions that direct traffic over the private way, require the town to remove all points and cause for access over Martini’s property, and require the town to compensate Martini for attorney fees and costs.

In Count 2, the suit claims continued use of Martini’s property constitutes an illegal and ongoing trespass, which has caused plaintiff (Martini) harm. Such “interference” has caused a reduction in property value and her inability to enjoy the land.

Claiming the town’s action is a nuisance, Martini is seeking “damages, costs and attorney fees,” according to the suit.

NEW WAY TO ENTER PUBLIC BEACH — The Town of Bridgton developed a new parking lot and a corresponding path that takes beachgoers to Salmon Point Road (a private road), which leads to the public beach. (Rivet Photos)

The complaint and motion for preliminary injunction was submitted by Attorney Samantha J. Adams of HanleyAdams of Portland, South Paris and Naples. The complaint was filed with Superior Court in Portland on Aug. 15. The town has 20 days to file a written response.

“I can’t say much at this point. We’re still digesting the complaint and will be fashioning a response,” Town Manager Robert Peabody told selectmen Tuesday night.

Selectmen approved withdrawing $15,000 from the Salmon Point Unassigned Fund Balance to defend the town. Costs include a survey, which is nearly complete by Sawyer Engineering & Surveying Inc. of Bridgton (estimated cost of services, $3,550), and legal fees.

Sawyer Engineering plans to review deeds and other information available on the town lots and abutting properties; calculate boundaries; draft a plan showing the results of the survey and any encroachments; and set iron pins at angle points along the town lot/right-of-way and other town lot corners.

The fund has a balance of $230,000.

In the suit’s summary of dispute, it notes that in the fall of 2017, the town began directing and continues to direct the general public to use the private way.

“Signage and a walkway were constructed on town property that direct the public to travel down a path, which exists onto the private way,” the complaint states. “The town has also installed handicapped parking at the end of the private way and the town actively directs traffic over the private way for handicapped access to Salmon Point Beach, a public beach.”

It continues, “Plaintiff (Martini) has not given permission for defendant (Town of Bridgton) to direct foot or vehicle traffic down the private way.”

The suit claims the town refuses to use campground property to reach the same point of access as provided by the public way.

“Since the change in parking, travel for plaintiff (Martini) and other owners over the private way has become difficult and dangerous, as the public usurps the width of the road as they travel to the public beach,” the suit says. “Despite plaintiff’s repeated requests for defendant (Town of Bridgton) to cease the redirection of public traffic, defendant has consistently asserted their ownership, and rights to, Salmon Point Road, and continues to refuse to redirect public traffic or to indemnify the owners of Salmon Point Road for the increased risk, liability and costs associated with the increase in public use.”

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