Selectmen discuss rehabilitation of area along Carrabassett River

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KINGFIELD — Selectmen voted unanimously Monday evening to to fund costs to survey and appraise the properties involved in the parking and public space along a section of the Carrabassett River.

For six years selectmen have been trying to persuade a handful of property owners to work with them to rehabilitate the land along the river.

Village Enhancement Committee Chairman Merv Wilson updated selectmen on the progress of the effort.

The site development includes a small park and an access point to the Carrabassett River for canoeists and fishermen. The access point will be very modest, according to committee member John Goldfrank, and won’t require a permitting process. Adding landscaping, including a lawn, will require more permitting.

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The town does not offer safe and efficient river access and visitors have little public access to the water, according to the Village Enhancement Committee. Although property owners have resisted allowing access across their land, the Mill Street parking lot can be paved and lighting can be installed.

The timing will coincide with the Maine Department of Transportation’s reconstruction of Route 27 through the downtown area in 2019. That plan, if partially funded by a grant, could reduce the cost of the original Village Enhancement Committee’s plan by approximately $15,000.

The town could pay for an easement from the five property owners, Wilson said. Four of the five owners already have agreed to have an easement agreement, but one owner won’t agree without financial compensation.

Selectmen began to work with property owners in 2011.

“You can support the project, pending all the legalities have been taken care of,” said Longfellow’s Restaurant and property owner John Goldfrank.

Selectmen supported a revision that includes a survey of the land and associated fees in any transfer of ownership.

Selectman Ray Meldrum suggested that the cost versus the benefits weren’t something he’d be in favor of.

“If that’s what the town wants, I’ll fight tooth and nail to make that happen,” he said. “Until then, I’m not in favor of it.”

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