Tag Archive for: China Four Seasons Club

China Four Seasons Club, Thurston Park to split TIF money 60/40

by Mary Grow

Five members of China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee met Feb. 8 and reviewed most of the requests for TIF funds for the 2023-24 fiscal year that begins July 1.

China’s TIF money comes from taxes Central Maine Power Company pays on its north-south transmission line through the town. By state law, TIF expenditures are to focus on promoting economic development. On the town website, china.govoffice.com, under the TIF Committee, the Second Amended TIF Program approved in 2021 lays out details of permissible expenditures.

Committee chairman Brent Chesley, who is also a member of the China select board, said he intended to participate in discussions, but would not vote, because the TIF Committee reports to the select board and he votes there. “One man, one vote,” he summarized.

A major topic at the Feb. 8 meeting was requested expenditures from Project C.7, titled Trails. The Thurston Park Committee asked for $44,000 from that category for trail work in the park in northeastern China; the Four Seasons Club asked for $60,000 from the same category for work on the snowmobile and four-wheeler trails its members maintain throughout the town.

The total annual expenditure for Project C.7 is capped at $65,000.

Four Seasons Club President Thomas Rumpf and Thurston Park Committee Chairman Jeanette Smith each said they could spend a great deal more than the requested amounts. Smith talked about repairing damage from the Dec. 23 storm, fallen trees and washouts, as well as normal trail maintenance and mowing some trails and the picnic area. Rumpf said meeting new state requirements requires major trail improvements; miles have been done, but more work is needed, especially south of Route 3.

Smith also requested funds to buy a side-by-side off-road vehicle to tow the bush-hog. Committee members talked about whether TIF money can be used for equipment, whether using volunteers’ equipment and labor for park work is appropriate and what alternatives there might be.

Smith said she is waiting for a reply to an application for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds to repair the entrance road to Thurston Park, which was badly damaged in the December storm. Only after the road is reopened, she explained, can she hope to get cement poured for the planned storage building in the park. Money for the cement pad was included in the current year’s budget and appears as an unspent balance.

Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said FEMA’s response to town requests might come in days, weeks or months.

TIF Committee members suggested Rumpf and Smith move to the far end of the room and talk out their differences. They did, and reported an agreement to split the $65,000, $32,500 apiece.

After further discussion, committee members overruled them and voted 3-1 (Danny Boivin, James “JJ” Wentworth and Michael “Mickey” Wing in the majority, Jamie Pitney opposed and Chesley abstaining) to give $25,000 to the Thurston Park Committee and the remaining $40,000 to the Four Seasons Club.

The majority’s rationale was that people bringing in snowmobiles and four-wheelers from out of town spend more at local stores and thus contribute more to the town’s economy than do Thurston Park visitors.

The Four Seasons Club’s request for a separate $5,000 from Project C.2 (Economic Development Events) for next year’s annual Ice Days celebration was tabled, as was the China Lake Association’s request for $1,000 from the same account.

Committee members unanimously endorsed the China Lake Association’s request for $10,000 and the China Region Lakes Alliance’s request for $20,000 for environmental improvements.

They also approved a total of $40,000 for the China Broadband Committee, with Pitney abstaining because he is a member of that committee.

Votes on requests from the Town of China were postponed to the next TIF Committee meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 8.

TIF Committee recommendations go to the select board. The select board will ask voters to approve total TIF expenditures at the annual town business meeting in June. At the June 14, 2022, meeting, voters approved spending a total of $265,000 in TIF funds (Art. 15 of the meeting warrant).

China Four Seasons helps at Bomazeen

Front row, from left to right, Ian Martin (#603), Julie McKenney, Amber Chesley. Back, Thomas Gage (#485); Tyleek Baluvett (#546); Zachary McKenney; Remy Pettengill (#479); Michael Connolly (#428). (contributed photo)

This summer two large boxes of life jackets and PFDs were donated by the China Four Seasons Club to the Camp Bomazeen Old Timers. The Old Timers put the donation directly to work this August at the Scouts BSA program at Camp Bomazeen. This is the older Scout program. The donation immediately supported Scouts from Kennebec Valley District troops to earn swimming, life saving and canoeing merit badges.

China Four Seasons Club: Non-profit Spotlight

Four Seasons clubhouse

Their Mission, Their Goals

by Steve Ball

Founded in 1970, the China Four Seasons Club is a growing nonprofit club organized to bring together enthusiasts of outdoor activities of all sorts. The club was organized after a merger between the China Lake Association and the China Regional Snowmobilers organizations. While most of their activities revolve around snowmobiling and ATV riding, the club, in fact, offers more to the community and its families.

In speaking with Tom Rumpf, club president, and Gail Tibbetts, past club president, it is obvious they see the club as a focal point for China and its surrounding towns’ people to get outside and enjoy the local area.

“This is really a four seasons club with events for everyone,” Rumpf said. There’s obviously snowmobiling and ATV riding, but in addition, the club has tried to broaden the offerings of the club. Recently the Four Seasons Club partnered with the China Village Volunteer Fire Department to sponsor and manage the China Lake Annual Ice Fishing Derby.

The club’s work during the year involves managing 34 miles of snowmobile trails and 21 miles of ATV trails in the China Lake region. All of the manpower for trail maintenance, grooming and upkeep is done by volunteers. According to Rumpf, the trails managed by the club are very popular, attracting riders and enthusiasts from throughout the state and New England. It’s busy work of which the club is rightly proud.

It is the work on the trails that keeps the attention of most members. Aside from the cost of building bridges, clearing storm and wind damage, and running the grooming vehicles, Rumpf and his team spend a lot of time talking with landowners to gain approval for trail access. Additionally, Rumpf is in contact with the Maine State Department of Conservation to assure that all the trails are in compliance and ask for guidance on major repair work. “These trails,” Rumpf said, “are more than just for snowmobilers and ATV riders. They get used by horseback riders, bikers, hikers, snowshoers and cross country skiers.”

The club, according to Rumpf, is really there to serve both the membership, numbering approximately 200, and the community. This is seen in the varied activities the club either sponsors or is involved in with other organizations. Over the Christmas holiday season the club donated money for families in need and then sponsored a raffle for four decorated Christmas trees stocked with presents underneath. Rumpf and his team are also partnering to assist with promoting the China School Forest.

The clubhouse is located on seven acres along Lakeview Drive, across from the China Town Office, with a beach and lake access. There’s a kitchen and main hall that serves the social needs of the club and is available to anyone to rent for private functions. The beach is remarkable in its somewhat secluded and protected setting. In the summer, docks are laid out to provide for swimming, fishing and boating, and the area is set-up for picnicking. In fact, according to Gail Tibbetts, the beach is increasingly becoming a prime attraction for families.

It is apparent the club is striving for ways to better serve the community. “I would like to organize a winter carnival around the ice fishing derby, with different activities for children and non-fishermen,” said Rumpf. This might include sledding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.

The club would be a remarkable organization just because of its location and available space, but it’s the leaders and membership that are visibly shaping this nonprofit into a valuable community asset. It is apparent the China Lake community would be a much different place if not for the impact of the China Four Seasons Club.

The Town Line will continue with a series of articles on local nonprofit groups and their work in their respective communities. To include your group, contact The Town Line at townline@townline.org.