NORWAY – Business has continued as usual at the Route 118 rest area by Lake Pennesseewassee despite threats that it may be closed next month.

The state’s Department of Transportation notified Norway officials earlier this month that the rest area is one of nine in the region it will abandon. Picnic tables, a restroom, grills and shelter overhangs, now maintained by a DOT maintenance crew from Dixfield, will be removed from the site unless selectmen notify the state by June 1 that Norway will maintain the picnic tables, said Bob LaRoche, supervisor of landscape architecture for the Department of Transportation.

The restroom will be removed regardless of any local decision and the site would be turned into a motor-vehicle turnout.

Selectmen have vowed to stop the action.

Ruth Fox and Byron Shaw of Lovell, who were enjoying a picnic during Tuesday’s sunny weather, said they were unaware of the possibility that they may no longer be able to have a picnic at the site.

Fox and Shaw said they are surprised by the state’s proposed action but said there may be other ways to maintain the site without sending a maintenance crew from Dixfield.

“It’s a lot cheaper for the state to pay a town crew to maintain it,” said Shaw, who said he has been picnicking by the lake for the past 40 years, even before the rest stop was constructed. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to run a lawnmower,” he said.

A sign at the rest area, left over from the winter, said the area was closed and noted the removal of the faucet from the drinking water hand pump. John Winslow of Independent Insurance, which contracted with the DOT to test the water quality, said he hopes to put the faucet back on this weekend.

He said the faucet remains off the pump until the water quality check confirms there are no toxins present. Winslow said water for the rest area is from a dug well. He said he’s not aware of any water quality problems and does not expect to find any this time.

Meanwhile, selectmen are preparing a letter to express their disagreement with the state recommendation. The state said it will consider allowing the town to maintain the picnic tables.


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