NORWAY – Selectmen on Thursday night looked at plans for two new parks along Pennesseewassee Stream that will enhance the condo-office development at the old C.B. Cummings & Sons dowel mill site.
For the past six months or so, townspeople have been deliberating about how to spend a $500,000 development grant originally slated for the old mill on Bridge Street. Once the mill was bought by a private developer, though, the public money was freed for downtown improvements.
What people wanted most was to fix up along the stream, which is bedraggled and neglected now, with no pleasant place to sit next to it. The stream is 1.25 miles long and runs from the outlet of Pennesseewassee Lake, behind the downtown business district on Main Street, and into the Little Androscoggin River near Lower Main Street.
Brett Doney, executive director of the Growth Council of Oxford Hills, presented colorful drawings of the parks at the selectmen’s meeting Thursday. One will be at the head of the stream, at the western end of Main Street. The other park will sit behind the Opera House. A pedestrian footbridge will connect the new office-condos with the park, and a trail will meander along the small green space.
The parks will cost $375,000, including all their amenities, like a 22-car parking lot on Water Street.
The rest of the $500,000 will be used for businesses competing for smaller grants, which they have to match, to spruce up the fronts or backs of their buildings.
The buildings sitting along the stream opposite the old mill will likely be the recipients of some of the facade grants because after the park is completed and the condos built, the backsides will be more visible.
Town Manager David Holt spoke at the meeting about the possibility of vandalism and asked about ways to prevent it.
“Everyone wants this to be nice and not an invitation for more vandalism problems,” Doney said.
Police Chief Rob Federico said keeping the park clean will deter vandals, and Doney mentioned putting up sensor lights.
The next two steps are a public hearing followed by a vote by selectmen.