New Gloucester gets grant for fairgrounds

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NEW GLOUCESTER — Grants to pay for improvements to the New Gloucester Fairgrounds and renovate the town library were among topics at Monday night’s selectmen meeting.

The town was recently awarded $55,000 through a land and water conservation grant from the state to improve the 31-acre former trotters park. The property is off on Bald Hill Road and along the Royal River reservoir. Purchased in 2002, it is within walking distance of the Upper Village.

The grant requires the town to provide a matching amount.

Town Planner Will Johnston said this year’s town meeting warrant asks voters to release $50,000 from the Parks and Recreational Reserve account. The rest would be raised through in-kind resources.

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Johnston told the board the property has potential to serve as a highly successful, multiuse park to enhance recreational opportunities, improve public health and provide improved access to the Royal River.

Selectmen have adopted a development plan, which recommends having a kayak/canoe station, carry-in boat launch improvements and a waterfront kiosk this year.

L.L.Bean donated two canoes and kayaks for the project. The Royal River Conservation trust, supported by an Outdoor Heritage grant, will partner with some aspects of the project.

Short-term improvements include a playground, pavilion/family gathering area, entry kiosk and parking improvements. The playing fields will be enhanced and picnic tables and benches and additional landscaping work are planned.

The other financial gift to the town was $40,000 from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation for library renovations, including a new roof.

“We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” New Gloucester Public Library Trustee Tim Terranova said. “Librarian Susan Hawkins did a major part of this grant application.” 

The board restored money taken from the capital reserve fund for the roof.

In other business, the board completed reviews of the proposed fiscal year 2017 municipal budget. The annual meeting warrant will be ready for the board to sign at the April 4 meeting.

Candidates seeking election should pick up papers at the Town Hall. To be elected are:

• two selectmen for three years;

• three SAD 15 directors; and

• a trustee for New Gloucester Water District.

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