Town seeks partner to run The Store
By Wayne E. Rivet
Outside of the Transfer Station building, a sign read, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Finding that “treasure,” however, can be difficult at times because of the wave after wave of items dropped off by the public.
Vincent Ciliberto, a member of Bridgton’s Recycling Committee, felt a better “presentation” could possibly produce more retail activity at The Store.
Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz and Transfer Station Director Bob Fitzcharles developed a plan to utilize volunteer organizations for weekend coverage and part-time staff to work during the weekdays to better organize merchandise and operate The Store. Also, a new area will be designated as the location to drop off reusable and recyclable goods and clothing — rather than have items dropped off in The Store, which in the past has resulted in a “cluttered” appearance.
The “win-win” situation is the town will split revenue (which is tracked on a daily basis) received on the weekend days with the nonprofit group that manned The Store. This arrangement would be used during the months of May through September. Based on past history, Berkowitz estimated that over $3,000 could be made by nonprofits over the five-month span.
Which group would get a chance to work The Store? The town would select interested parties much like the way the current bottle returnable bin is operated.
Part-time transfer station staff would be used on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The staff will organize materials from the drop-off spot and place them in the designated areas of the store. Staff would also be available to assist with busy periods at the transfer station dumping area, as well as covering other workers at lunchtime.
Berkowitz estimated the cost to cover this worker at $2,800. Combining the “split” with the nonprofit and the part-time staff member, total cost would be $6,625. With the town generating about $21,000 as the result of its recycling efforts, the revenue figure would fall to $14,165.
“We believe a cleaner, well-organized store will sell more,” Berkowitz and Fitzcharles said.
Selectmen liked the idea. The town will launch the plan immediately, and run the program during September and October.
Where is the town headed?
Before the Wastewater Committee takes another step, member Ray Turner feels selectmen need to answer one very important question, “Where do we go from here?”
Selectmen asked the committee to determine whether the town can provide relief from ordinance requirements — mainly can selectmen waive certain installation/allocation fees or charges for good causes such as a town building?
Turner believes a more defined “direction” is needed before considering whether to simply expand current sewage disposal fields or develop other options.
Questions to be answered include, “Where should our growth and developments go?” and whether the town should push harder for those with available property to address disposal there, rather than trying to hook into the town’s limited system.
Glenn “Bear” Zaidman expressed concern that failing “existing smaller systems” could threaten groundwater, so the time is right for the town to take a more progressive look regarding how to address its sewer needs — perhaps even a regional facility?
Selectmen will meet with the Community Development Committee and Wastewater Committee in a workshop session on Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Municipal Complex lower level.
Salmon Point report
Selectmen praised the efforts of the Community Development Committee, which generated a detailed report regarding Salmon Point and possible future options of the campground.
Officials will discuss the report with CDC members this Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. during a workshop meeting in the selectmen’s room.
Selectmen will spend the second half of the workshop to review the Salmon Point lease for the summer of 2013, including possible fee schedule, policy and operation changes.
Brian Cushing has been added to the Stewardship Committee for Pondicherry Park.
A recently-retired social studies teacher, Cushing has resided in Bridgton for over 20 years.
“Now that I am retired, I have more energy that I can devote to worthy causes such as this committee,” he wrote to selectmen. “It is time for me to give back to this community that I dearly love.”
Selectmen approved the appointment by a 4-0 vote.
Freedom of information
Selectmen designated the town manager as Bridgton’s Freedom of Information officer. Executive Assistant Georgiann Fleck will serve as the manager’s “back-up.”
Unless payments are made in the near future, four foreclosed properties will be up for public auction on Sept. 27.
A second memo will be sent to former owners, offering them a final chance to pay back taxes before the properties head to auction.
Berkowitz recommended to selectmen that minimum bid prices be set. They include: Wildwood Road parcel, $10,000; Vista Drive, 40.3 acre site, $30,000; Karissa Drive, 64 acres, $35,000; and 134 Sandy Creek Road, 2.6 acres and structure, $35,000.
Berkowitz noted that the Sandy Creek Road building is in “extremely poor” condition, and suggested that the property be used as a fire training site — if the owner fails to pay off the back taxes. Without the building, Berkowitz believes the property could see a higher return at auction.
Chuck Renneker suggested the town seek a legal opinion whether the structure could be torched prior to the sale.
Berkowitz noted that the foreclosure list previously included a fifth property, but it was removed when the owner paid off the tax bill.