NEW GLOUCESTER – Selectmen say the final $125,000 payment was made to Fred Thurston of Conifer Industries recently, completing the sale of the former race track, Trotter’s Park, to the town.

Voters two years ago agreed to purchase the 32-acre horse-training facility on Bald Hill Road for $250,000 payable in two annual installments without interest.

On Monday Scott Doyle, a volunteer fireman, told town officials that the New Gloucester Community Fair would be held at the facility on Oct. 18. Before then, he said, the interior field needs to be leveled for pedestrians. A committee will develop a volunteer effort to work on a portion of the field and plans are under way to install a fence around the facility.

Three bids were opened that will be reviewed by Town Manager William Cooper before selectmen award a contract. Bidders and amounts are: C&G Fence Co. of Litchfield with $15,650; Perimeter Fence of Winthrop with $18,860; and Gorham Fence Co. of Standish with $22,290. The item is budgeted at $18,000.

A letter from 17 property owners on Brookside Drive, a subdivision off the Bennett Road, requested the town place an article on the warrant at the next scheduled special town meeting to accept Brookside as a public way.

In other business, selectmen agreed to have Maine Municipal Association launch a search for a new town manager at a cost of $4,500 plus the cost of advertising and expenses, if needed.

Finally, Selectman Lenora Conger said she has been contacted by the public for an explanation for why a fire chief appointment did not occur on July 1.

Currently, Bruce Tupper the town’s full-time firefighter is serving as chief, elected by members of the volunteer fire and rescue department.

A search was launched that includes roughly 20 applicants, including Tupper. In late spring Town Manager William Cooper opposed a plan whereby selectmen served on the hiring committee to review fire chief applicants. Cooper said the ordinance clearly said the hiring and firing of town employees is the town manager’s job.

The board reversed its position after clarification from the town attorney. The board then directed Cooper to form a committee for the interview process. However, Cooper resigned and selectmen postponed the search until a new town manager is named.

Chairman Steve Libby said Cooper recommended the new town manager should hire a new department head.

The board did not vote on the postponement, and letters have been sent to all fire and rescue officers that appointments will continue until October.

“The board made it clear that the transition of the manager would be smooth and seamless. Let’s keep the status quo and let the new manager hire the chief,” said Libby.

Last spring selectmen launched a search for a full-time fire chief. Voters in March approved a fire department ordinance that states that the fire chief will be named on July 1.

Selectmen say no special town meeting is currently scheduled. Last April, developer William Chapman asked selectmen to place the road on the town warrant, but the board refused, saying the road was not finished and needed to lie untouched for the winter.

Selectmen say they will discuss putting the question to voters at a special town meeting if one occurs, but favor waiting for a regular town meeting.


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