Canton board moves closer to signing permanent public access easement for boat launch

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CANTON — Board of Selectmen Chairman Donny Hutchins was ready to sign a permanent public access easement for the Whitney Brook boat launch Thursday night.

Whitney Brook is an outlet of Lake Anasagunticook.

Hutchins said he read the whole document and thought it was pretty straightforward. The only thing apparently wrong with it was that Selectman Robert Walker Jr.’s name wasn’t spelled correctly where selectmen must sign the document to make it official.

Selectman Brian Keene said he’d only read part of the document. Hutchins said they should wait for the other two board members to be present before signing it. Selectmen Malcolm Ray and Russell Adams were absent.

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Leon Bucher of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said he wasn’t looking for board signatures; he wanted selectmen and the town attorney to review the document. Boucher said MDIF&W would pay the attorney up to $500 for his legal review.

Bucher then answered the board’s questions, which mostly keyed on maintenance responsibilities and reimbursement from the state.

“We don’t mind doing maintenance if we get reimbursed,” Hutchins said.

Bucher told the board to establish a budget for maintenance, itemize work and expenses and send him the bill. The MDIF&W would reimburse at 90 percent while the town is responsible for the other 10 percent.

Afterward, Hutchins thanked Bucher for all of his work and assistance in helping Canton with the boat launch.

“The town of Canton really appreciates this,” Hutchins said. “This was kind of like the turning point and you’ve given us access to our biggest economic engine. . . This really did a lot for this town. It really did. It was just a nightmare for years and people tried and tried and tried in good faith for years.”

Hutchins said the town wants to build a gazebo on the lot, hopefully this spring.

“It’s all paved and there’s no mud anymore, the water issue has been taken care of, the water goes where it’s supposed to go and we have a launch where we can get up and down into the lake,” he said. “You did a good job. This is something in this day and age that the state should be proud of. This is an example where the state really stepped up and did a really good job.”

Bucher said it was the partnership that worked, because Canton labored to get grants to install a new dam on Whitney Brook and got the Environmental Protection Agency to do a brownfields cleanup of the old Brindis Leathers Tannery site.

The cleanup project was part of a larger, multi-pronged project to redevelop Canton’s downtown area fronted by Route 108 and Route 140. It includes the new public access boat launch site.

“We just put the exclamation mark on the site,” Bucher said of the boat launch.

“You were a big part of this, so thank you very much,” Hutchins said.

In other business, the board voted 3-0 to authorize the Canton Water District to seek a Community Development Block Grant to fund extending a new water main to the fire station (municipal campus). Paperwork and money would run through the town because the water district isn’t eligible to receive funds, district Superintendent Debi Hutchins, the selectmen chairman’s wife, said.

Lobbying for the project, Debi Hutchins said the work is needed because the station serves as an emergency shelter in bad weather.

“So, long story short, we have an emergency shelter with bad water,” Donny Hutchins said.

Walker motioned to allow the water district to pursue extending the water main to the municipal campus located on Route 108 and to seek grant funding to pay for the work. It was seconded and approved.

Debi Hutchins said the district hasn’t done any engineering yet to create a plan to submit with the grant application because it needs to secure funding first.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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