China selectmen approve funding for community ice rink

by Mary Grow

At their Sept. 13 meeting, China selectmen unanimously approved the Recreation Committee’s plan to spend about $5,000 from the recreation reserve account for an ice rink this winter, and commended Chairman Martha Wentworth and the rest of the committee for their activity.

Wentworth explained plans and answered numerous questions from board members.

The committee proposes buying a removable rink, made of hard plastic boards. Wentworth has half a dozen volunteers to set it up this fall after soccer and football teams are done and to take it down in the spring before baseball teams need the field. She plans to store the boards in the soccer storage garage.

The rink will be on the town-owned south ballfield on the China Middle School grounds, so the ballfield lights will be available for evening skating, probably either Fridays or Saturdays. Wentworth envisions the rink as primarily for family use, mostly in the daytime. A few hours might be set aside for hockey players one day a week, she suggested.

She had talked with South China Fire Chief Richard Morse about providing the estimated 9,600 gallons of water to fill the rink, and sending firefighters back to flood it when the ice gets too rough. She expects other volunteers, from the recreation committee and from local organizations interested in selling hot cocoa and other refreshments to skaters, to keep the premises clean.

Trash cans and winterized portable toilets will be on site.

Because of the location, no additional driveway plowing will be needed for access. Wentworth is looking for volunteers (preferably; the committee will pay if necessary) to clear the ice after snowstorms. She said she is talking with two people already.

Asked about insurance, she said adding ice-skating would not increase the town’s premium unless officials decided to insure the rink structure itself, for an estimated $100 a year.

Wentworth cited advantages of using an on-land rink instead of clearing an ice-skating area on China Lake: it’s a “more controlled environment”: some people are apprehensive about the solidity of the lake ice; and the field allows for organizations to sell refreshments and for loudspeakers to play skating music.

Ronald Breton, chairman of the selectboard, added that skaters on the field would not have to watch out for speeding snowmobiles.

Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood suggested the ice rink might be eligible for federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Wentworth had heard of another possible source of grant funding.

In other business, Hapgood announced that the town-owned lot on Lakeview Drive has been sold, for $83,000, but the closing is postponed until sometime in October because the title company has such a backlog of business.

Selectmen postponed action on bids to install heat pumps at town buildings to their next meeting.

After discussion with Codes Officer Jaime Hanson, selectmen voted unanimously to have the town attorney begin the process of taking a Winding Hill Road landowner to court for long-running uncorrected violations of town ordinances and state laws.

The Sept. 13 meeting began with the annual public hearing on state-proposed amendments to the appendices to the General Assistance Ordinance, adjusting the amounts of aid in different categories. There was no public comment. Selectmen later adopted the changes unanimously.

Kennebec County Sheriff’s Deputy Ivano Stefanizzi attended the meeting and reported that he has been welcomed by most residents, both as he patrols town roads and during the past summer when he and colleagues patrolled on China Lake.

Hapgood issued a reminder that the first half payment of 2021-22 China property taxes is due at the town office by the close of business Thursday, Sept. 30. Interest on late payments begins immediately.

She read Town Clerk Angela Nelson’s report that tax payments are coming in well, with some people paying for the entire year.

Assessor Kelly Grotton’s report added that if people believe their property is assessed, and therefore taxed, higher than it should be, the deadline for filing a request for an abatement is Feb. 17, 2022. Any appeal of personal property taxes must be accompanied by a complete list of such property.

Public Works Foreman Shawn Reed reported, via Hapgood, that his crew has been preparing roads for paving in South China Village and elsewhere in the southern part of town. Pike Industries plans to start paving in China Sept. 23, if there are no rain delays between now and then.

Irene Belanger retiring

At the Sept. 13 China selectmen’s meeting, long-time Selectman Irene Belanger announced that she is retiring this fall, and resigning from most of the other boards and committees on which she serves, because of her husband’s health. Other board members commended her for her long service to the town.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27. Their first meeting in October will be Tuesday evening, Oct. 12, because Monday, Oct. 11, is the Indigenous Peoples Day holiday.


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