Troop asks for waiver on Town Hall use fees

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer

Members of Bridgton’s Webelos Scout Pack 149 turned out in force with their troop leader Tuesday, offering to do community service work in return for free use of Town Hall for scouting events such as sleepovers.

The $100 per use fee for use of the Town Hall is too steep for a non-profit like the scouting troop to pay, Troop Leader Mark Hatch told the board, as the young members of the pre-cub scout troop gathered around him with a poster they made highlighting the volunteer work they do in the community. The troop collects food for food pantries, passes out water to 4 on the Fourth runners and cleans up Depot Street on Earth Day, among other good deeds.

“The boys do quite a bit for the community,” Hatch said. In his written request, Hatch also asked that the fee waiver be approved for Girl Scout and other scouting programs as well.

In return, they’d like to use the Town Hall for a camp-in sleepover and perhaps other special events. Hatch said it didn’t seem fair that they would have to pay a fee because they are not a recreation department-sponsored group.

Recreation Director Tom Tash agrees that some revisions to the town’s fee policy for use of Town Hall might be needed for civic-minded groups like the scouts that lack the funding to cover the fee “but will struggle without use of the facilities.” He suggested such groups could either provide a $100 deposit each year for use of the space, which would be refundable providing the group leaves it clean and in the state it was when they arrived, or could spend two hours cleaning up trash at parks, trails or the beach for each use.

Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz suggested the troop could find a sponsor to put up the $100 deposit if necessary, and favored the idea of opening the same arrangement up to other civic groups “so the town would be treating everyone the same across the board.”

Hatch said he wanted the scouts to have the experience of earning the right to use the space, rather than having the fee simply waived.

The board agreed to have Berkowitz and Tash meet in order to modify the town’s Town Hall use policy and bring it back for a vote at their next meeting on Tuesday, April 12.

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