PARIS — The owner of a seasonal home in northern Oxford County reminded county commissioners Tuesday that he and others want to know whether the county will help pay for a bridge to access their properties.
Paul Hodsdon of Norway is one of dozens of landowners who want the Aldrich Brook bridge on Lincoln Pond Road in Parkertown Township replaced so they can get to their lots along Aziscohos Lake without taking a 26-mile detour.
Hodsdon is president of the Aziscohos Lake Campers Association, which represents 61 camp owners, 38 of whom use Lincoln Pond Road, he said after the meeting. Owners have deeded access over 13 miles of the paper company road, including the bridge, he said.
Hodsdon added that camp owners pay a total of about $71,000 in taxes annually to the county but get nothing in return.
The issue arose when some camp owners in the unorganized territory attended the Dec. 20 commissioners meeting to ask for help to build a bridge, after one that replaced a culvert washed out last May and was removed by the owner in July 2017.
County Administrator Scott Cole said Lincoln Park Road used to have a culvert, “but sometime around 2011 or 2012, Trout Unlimited made an effort to remove the culvert to allow better fish passage.”
He said an “undersized bridge” was installed but was inadequate.
“It only lasted for about three or four years, and then it became unsafe,” Cole said. “The bridge ended up being blocked and removed. Now the core issue is that there’s no bridge allowing the camp owners to get in and out. Instead, they have to go a roundabout way. …”
At the Dec. 20 meeting, Sarah Medina, land-use director of Seven Islands Land Co., which owns land in Lincoln Plantation south of Parkertown, said she disapproved of the county using taxpayer money for a bridge in unorganized territory and suggested landowners seek grants to pay for one.
Hodsdon said Tuesday that he took Medina’s advice and went to the Maine Department of Agriculture office in Augusta to research funding.
“Well, lo and behold, I learned that if we had gone up to their office right after the bridge was removed, when all of the debris was in the brook, they could’ve written a grant and gotten it taken care of,” Hodsdon said. “Now that the bridge is gone, we have no leg to stand on.”
“Our options are getting kind of thin here,” he told commissioners Steve Merrill of Norway, David Duguay of Byron and Tim Turner of Buckfield.
“I’m here to remind you that we have a major decision to make,” he said. “Quite often, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Well, we’re the wheels that are squeaking, and you are the gentlemen holding the grease gun.”
Staff Editor Mary Delamater contributed to this report.
Landowners in Parkertown Township are asking the Oxford County Commissioners to fund a bridge over Aldrich Brook after the previous one was removed several years ago. The landowners say that it is “a safety issue” because there is only one other way in and out of the unorganized territory. The above photo is of the Aldrich Brook bridge before it was removed. (Submitted photo)