CHINA NEWS: Thurston Park, Causeway bridge, 200th anniversary discussed

by Mary Grow

China selectmen again dealt with a miscellany of business at their June 26 meeting, including catching up with committee activities and appointing committee members, considering plans for the 200th anniversary of the incorporation of the town in 2018, getting a report on China Lake and beginning discussion of equipment needs and a new town office sign.

Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said the June 17 Thurston Park forestry walk, sponsored by the Thurston Park II Committee, drew an interested group, mostly of people from other towns wanting to see what China is doing.

Tom Michaud reported for the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee that its members are focusing on replacing the Causeway Street bridge at the head of China Lake’s east basin. They have one engineer’s suggestions and are meeting with other engineers in the next three weeks, he said.

Once plans are final, Michaud expects it will take several months to get necessary permits for the work.

The next step after the new bridge is parking, he said. Selectmen talked about the still-not-final purchase of the small lot where boat trailers now park across from the boat landing. L’Heureux said TIF Committee member Frank Soares suggested seeking to acquire land on the other side of Lakeview Drive that could accommodate overflow boat-landing parking in summer and snowmobile trail access parking in winter.

“There isn’t much land around the causeway, that’s the problem,” Michaud observed. Several people cited recent congestion around the boat landing. Selectmen appointed Leanne Hanson to the China for a Lifetime Committee; Amy Gartley and Dale Worster to the Revolving Loan Fund Committee; and Jamie Pitney to the Broadband Committee.

They decided to advertise for a budget committee secretary and for members of the China Bicentennial Committee.

Board Chairman Neil Farrington, who is also the de facto bicentennial coordinator, said the China Bicentennial History is available on the town website.

L’Heureux reported that the old town house beside the town office again needs the basement dried out. Selectmen unanimously authorized the work.

Farrington proposed publicizing the bicentennial by holding occasional selectmen’s meetings upstairs in the historic building, starting July 10. Since the TIF Committee is also scheduled to meet that evening and two selectmen are on it, its meeting was set for 6 p.m. (half an hour earlier than usual) in the town office, with selectmen meeting at 7 p.m. in the old town house.

Board members also approved Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood’s suggestion that the Town of China website be updated. Part of the update would simplify access to bicentennial information.

China Region Lakes Alliance President Jim Hart reported on activities of his organization, the China Lake Association and the Alewife Restoration Initiative. CRLA and CLA are cooperating on work to reduce phosphorus run-off into China Lake, Three Mile Pond and Webber Pond through the LakeSmart program (which encourages shoreland homeowners to meet water quality protection standards) and the Conservation Corps (whose members plan and carry out shoreline improvement projects). Hart commended Kennebec Water District for supporting the efforts this year, after a break in assistance last year because of disagreement over the value of alewives to water quality.

Anecdotally, water quality has improved in Maine lakes, including Webber and Three Mile ponds, after dam removal allowed alewives to migrate into and out of the lakes. In theory, the small fish leaving the lake in the fall take phosphorus with them. Studies have not consistently supported a connection between alewives and water quality.

Hart said opening Maine streams to alewife migration is a state effort to encourage the return of the small fish. He mentioned annual alewife festivals in Damariscotta and Benton, and income to Vassalboro from trapping and selling the fish as they enter Webber Pond from the Kennebec River.

Town Manager L’Heureux proposed replacing two town trucks. If new trucks are to be ready for snowplowing next winter, selectmen need to buy them soon, he said. He plans continued discussion July 10.

Farrington and others said people have complained they cannot find the town office because it has no identifying sign. Board members will continue discussing what kind of sign they want at their next meeting.

In other business, selectmen unanimously awarded the 2017 paving bid to B & B Paving, of Hermon, the company that will do Vassalboro’s work as well after the two towns combined their request.

They unanimously approved renewing Wildwood Pawn’s pawnbroker’s license.

Farrington reported representatives of all three fire departments and China Rescue have signed the memorandum describing implementation of volunteer stipends approved at the March town meeting. The program begins with the new fiscal year July 1.


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