Pennesseewassee Stream park project scrapped

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NORWAY – The Pennesseewassee Stream park project has been canceled after some property owners refused to give up their land to make way for a handicap-accessible path.

Marcy Boughter of the Growth Council of Oxford Hills said she asked six people who own buildings between the south side of Main Street and the stream to sign property easements. The path required about 17 feet of land starting at the stream’s edge. Three agreed to the easements, and three did not.

“They were worried about traffic. For some it was their private area,” Boughter said. Others wanted to put their buildings on the market and did not want to agree to an easement before selling.

Last year, the town was given $502,000 in a Community Development Block Grant to spend on improvements in the downtown area that is classified as the the “slum and blight” district. This money, originally meant to redevelop the C.B. Cummings Mill site, was redirected to the town after the Growth Council sold the mill to a private investor.

After a public hearing in November 2005, town officials and interested residents decided to create two parks that would encourage walkers, one at Water Street and the other along the stream starting at Books N Things and extending to the former New Balance shoe store building.

About $134,000 has been spent on creating a park and some parking at the head of Water Street. Another $125,000 has been used to give matching grants to store owners to fix up their facades. That left roughly $260,000, which was going to be spent on sprucing up the patch of land between the block of buildings on Main Street and Pennessewassee Stream, including building a pedestrian bridge between the future park and the future condo development at the former mill site.

But now everything in that space has to be scrapped.

Boughter and Town Manager David Holt will discuss possible other uses for the money. And a citizens group will also be contemplating alternative projects.

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