by Mary Grow
CHINA — China TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Committee members spent their April 10 meeting discussing who should supervise expenditures approved at the March 25 town meeting and what additional projects the committee should consider.
Since the TIF Committee is an advisory body, members thought they should not implement programs. However, several said, the groups that do implement programs should keep the committee, and town selectmen, informed, especially if projects change.
The largest appropriation from TIF funds was up to $750,000 over three years for the causeway project at the head of China Lake. After a long discussion, committee members agreed the first step is an RFI (Request for Information) to selected engineering firms asking for proposed design and build plans. Committee members Frank Soares and Stephen Nichols will write the RFI. The revolving loan fund for businesses, for which voters authorized up to $25,000, should be the selectmen’s responsibility, committee members said. The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments is slated to administer the program, under town guidance.
The $20,000 appropriated for the Alewife Restoration Initiative and the $40,000 for Thurston Park should be spent by the respective groups heading the projects, ARI and the Thurston Park II Committee.
Soares, who is president of the Four Seasons Club, said a small part of the $50,000 previously appropriated to the club for trail work is being reallocated to rebuild the dock at the swimming beach off Lakeview Drive opposite the town office. Volunteer work took care of some of the planned trail expansion, he said, freeing up money to extend trail improvements and for the dock. Other potential TIF Committee projects include public access to China Lake, a community center, senior housing and expansion of access to broadband internet service. China’s Lake Access Committee has been inactive since voters rejected its proposal to buy the former Candlewood property. Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux mentioned two other properties that might be available in the future; Soares said the Four Seasons Club would consider leasing its beach to the town..
Committee member Dale Worster said he preferred to develop the public beach where it would be best for the town, not where property is available. His initial idea of buying a large parcel in South China village including the present boat landing was not supported. He now proposed seeking willing sellers of land at the north end of the lake, west of the causeway, either including or adjoining Church Park.
Committee member Robert MacFarland reminded the group that China owns a small parcel off Lakeview Drive, opposite the end of the road that used to connect Lakeview Drive and Hanson Road at the Bog Road intersection. He was authorized to look into clarifying the extent of the town’s property there.
Suggestions for a potential community center included the former Fairpoint building on Route 3 and the present China Middle School, if the school department is able to consolidate China’s elementary education in an enlarged China Primary School. Neither property is likely to be available soon. Senior housing would require transportation, committee member Amy Gartley suggested. Committee member and Selectman Irene Belanger said residents responding to a recent survey were not enthusiastic about taxpayer-funded transportation.
L’Heureux said the newly-formed Broadband Committee is looking into expansion of internet service. Worster recommended expansions feature buried cable, which he said is much easier to maintain than overhead cable.
The meeting ended after a moment of silence in memory of the late Albert Althenn.
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