NEW GLOUCESTER – Selectmen confirmed Monday that a town planner has been hired, and they got answers on a tree-cutting operation and an update from the Fairgrounds Committee chairman.
Amanda Simpson was unanimously endorsed by the board to assume the post of town planner starting April 27. Simpson is an assessor in Raymond, and comes to New Gloucester with vast education and experience in planning.
She replaces the town’s first full-time planner, James Isaacson, who resigned Feb. 7.
Town Manager Rosemary Kulow in a memo to the board answered questions raised by the public outcry on removing trees along the roadside of seasonal sections of the Tobey and Swamp roads.
In the past month, dozens of residents angered by the extensive cut described as maintenance argued the agreements with an area logger and local hauler were done without a contract or outside bid.
Kulow said Public Works Director Kevin Doyle tried to find a less expensive solution to begin to improve the roads. The contract between the town and the woodcutter for the right-of-way tree removal was not in writing. The agreement was that the woodcutter would take the wood and charge the town $500 for each road to do the work, Kulow said.
The wood was sold for hardwood pulp Kulow said.
The brush could be a fire or public safety hazard only if someone or something sets fire to it, Kulow said.
After spring thaw is complete, sometime after May 1, public works will use a grader and/or loader to make the roads passable. Both roads have deep mud and deep holes. Selectmen will determine what to do about the stumps in the future.
In other business, Fairgrounds Committee Chairman Cliff Andrews told the board he fully supports a newly created Park and Recreation Committee, which includes the fairgrounds group, in its effort to consolidate planning and implementation.
Four road signs will be erected by the New Gloucester Highway Department on the major highways to guide people to the 31-acre facility on the Bald Hill Road.
The former horse training track known as Trotter’s Park was originally the New Gloucester-Danville Fairgrounds in the early 20th century.
A front-gate entrance New Gloucester Fairgrounds sign will be in place within the month with the help of local businessmen Dennis and Rick McCann of McCann Fabrication, Andrews said.
A fairgrounds display will be available for the public at the annual town meeting where a historical booklet on the fairgrounds will be sold.
Spring cleanup includes removing an ice rink, setting volleyball nets and lines, and raking. And, the track needs dragging and the infields need repair.