China News: Selectmen approve all three requests from Thurston Park committee

by Mary Grow

China selectmen approved all three requests presented by the Thurston Park II Committee at the Nov. 28 selectmen’s meeting.

Committee spokesman Judy Stone presented a report on committee activities and asked selectmen to:

  • Choose Harold Burnett of Two Trees Forestry in Winthrop as consulting forester for the park.
  • Contract with Burnett for $400 to evaluate possible saleable timber in the park.
  • Set up a Thurston Park account into which donations, timber sales income (if any) and other funds can be deposited to be used for activities and improvements in the park.

Since there is currently no money for the park, selectmen approved taking the $400 from the $45,000 contingency fund voters granted them at the March 2016 town business meeting.

Stone said Burnett had visited Thurston Park and provided a report and map showing three small areas that might be worth harvesting. Much of the forest is young, she said; and Burnett’s report commented that the area had been heavily cut in the 1990s, leaving little potentially marketable wood.

Another pending project is improving access to the park. Stone said committee members plan to talk with Pete and Dawn Haskell, whose driveway at the south end often becomes a de facto parking area, before asking China’s TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Committee for recreational-enhancement funds to improve the access roads.

The grant funds that helped build recreational trails can be used only inside the park, not for access, she said.
Thurston Park covers about 400 mostly-wooded acres in northeastern China, bounded by Palermo and Albion. Selectman Irene Belanger commented that many people all over the state have visited or heard of the area.

The next meeting of the Thurston Park II Committee is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, in the town office, Belanger said. (ep)

In other business Nov. 28, China resident and state Department of Transportation (MDOT) employee Scott Rollins told selectmen about MDOT’s cooperative programs with municipalities. The state seeks local officials’ input on prioritizing work on state and state aid roads that run through their municipalities, he said.

Selectman Joann Austin asked about several problem areas and pending projects in China. Rollins said representatives of the department and the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments will be considering the Alder Park Road.

Austin and Belanger are concerned that the large culvert under Route 3 east of Rockwood Drive, installed in the 1960s and due to be replaced, tentatively in 2017, blocks what used to be a water connection between China Lake and Three Mile Pond. Rollins said this time, unlike in the 1960s, MDOT will consult with environmental agencies.

On another topic, Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said he talked with the three landowners involved in town acquisitions voters approved Nov. 8. He has asked the town attorney for advice on proper conveyance documents to give China legal title to the lot behind the town office, the lot at the head of China Lake where boaters park and the former subdivision on the east side of Lakeview Drive.

Resident Sandra Costron recommended China selectmen consider a reaction to the Nov. 8 statewide vote approving recreational marijuana, pointing out that a majority of China voters voted against the referendum question. The item was on the agenda for the selectmen’s Nov. 29 visioning session.

L’Heureux said signatures had been validated on Marie Michaud’s petition to reconstitute the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee. Belanger is calling former committee members to see who wants to serve again; Michaud provided a list of other interested people.

China’s comprehensive plan is valid into 2020, L’Heureux said. Michaud’s petition asked the reconstituted committee to consider one aspect of the plan, establishing land use districts.

The town will have a new committee on providing resources for senior citizens and residents with special needs – suggested project or committee names include Aging in Place, Thriving in Place and China for a Lifetime. Selectmen appointed the first five committee members: Austin, Belanger, Kostron, Helen Roy and Toni Wall.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting will be Monday evening, Dec. 12.


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