KINGFIELD — Voters at town meeting Saturday voiced strong opinions about history, safety and change.
Warrant articles generating the most discussion concerned the village center horse-watering trough, a century-old landmark at the intersections of roads heading north, south, east and west. A Village Enhancement Committee has held hearings, conducted surveys and presented a design to increase pedestrian safety and to add a village green area with picnic tables, benches and flowers.
“We have had about 30 meetings over the past year,” landscape architect Cynthia Orcutt said.
The plan is to provide an easement of the property near Camden National Bank that would extend north on Route 27, Orcutt said. The park would include the bandstand and a permanent easement that would allow space for tents, seating and exhibits at annual events, such as Kingfield Days.
Several townspeople protested the suggestion to move the trough 35 feet from the intersection to the proposed village green. The primary concern for citizens surveyed during the design development process was safety. Reducing the intersections of Routes 26, 16 and 142 would create safer crossing options for children and the elderly, Orcutt said. Moving the watering trough to the village green would ensure some security that a truck in a snowstorm would not hit the landmark.
“In 47 years I’ve worked for the paper, and I’ve never covered an accident,” resident Laura Dunham protested.
Mark Lopez asked the voters to amend the village improvement plan to keep the trough where it is, and voters endorsed that change.
Residents endorsed a land-use ordinance, which defined areas of fields along the Carrabassett River that can be used by snowmobiles, ATVs and other recreational pursuits. They also approved a change in allowable structure heights from 35 feet to 45 feet, enabling property owners in hilly areas outside the town center to meet building codes. Those affected by such a change would include residential developments such as Ira Mountain, several miles north of the town center.
“Once you build something on a hillside or slope, the height from the bottom edge to the top turns out to be very long and very high," Michael Kinkainen said.
The turnout for the annual meeting was larger than usual, with 167 voters casting ballots. John Dill and Wade Browne were elected to fill two Board of Selectmen seats. Incumbent Sarah Churchill lost her bid for re-election, and Neal McCurdy chose not to run again. SAD 58 director Kim Jordan was unopposed and will serve another three-year term.
The proposed $718,000 budget to run the town included several thousand dollars of tax-increment financing money, which is in a state-approved tax-incentive program. A portion of Poland Spring’s property taxes has been set aside for improvements and economic development.