PARIS — Selectmen decided to move forward in applying for grants that, if awarded, would help establish a public boat launch and help senior citizens remain in their homes.

At their meeting Monday night, selectmen unanimously authorized Town Manager Amy Bernard to apply for a grant through the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The idea to turn the vacant 7-acre Paris Utility District property at 1 Paris Hill Road into a recreational area was first proposed through the town’s recently adopted Strategic Plan. The project would include a boat launch, canoe and kayak rentals, Parks and Recreation office, ice-skating warming hut, walking paths, fishing and picnic areas.

Before voting on the measure, Selectman Janet Jamison wondered if they were putting the cart before the horse. She said the area people currently use to launch into the Little Androscoggin River on the Paris Utility District property is mucky and might not be the best spot.

Bernard said state officials will inspect the site before the town can apply for the grant. The inspection request is due by May 13. The project proposals for the grant, due on June 24, max out at $150,000 and must be completed by June 30, 2017. Bernard believes all the selectmen’s questions should be answered before then.

A Revitalization Committee member will help Bernard with the grant application. A cash or in-kind match equal to 50 percent of the approved project cost is required. Bernard said the town’s application for the district to sign a conservation lease went to the state Public Utilities Commission for approval in January. She’s not sure if the town can use the leased land as an in-kind match for the grant, but she plans to find out.

Either way, creating a boat launch is an expensive endeavor, she said.


“Just to put in the slabs for a boat launch, it’s $25,000 easily,” Bernard said. “We don’t need to have that. This is going to be carry in, carry out — not motor boat stuff. We may not have to have something that elaborate.”

Board of Selectmen Vice Chairman Robert Wessels wondered if the town could create a small boat launch at the Billings Dam. His first choice is the Paris Utility District property, but if that fell through, the board should consider that location, he said.

Bernard said the town owns the dam.

“I would love to see the use of that waterway,” Wessels said.

The senior citizens grant is part of the AARP/World Health Organization’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities initiative. Peter Morelli of AARP gave selectmen an update about the program Monday night, after they unanimously decided to join the initiative two weeks ago.

Morelli said the John T. Gorman Foundation is giving communities grants of  between $2,000 and $5,000 to figure out how to help seniors remain in their homes. The money could be used for a survey or to form a focus group to figure out what the needs of seniors in the community are and how to fill in the gaps for any needs that are not being met.


Attorney and Revitalization Committee member Sarah Glynn has spearheaded this effort and offered to be the point person for the grant. She said Monday that she’s in the process of forming a steering committee on the topic, in order to help seniors stay in their homes and address their other needs.

“There’s dozens of agencies that provide these services, but they’re all disjointed,” Glynn said, noting she wants to create a task force that’s a one-stop shop for all things senior citizens-related.

Morelli is adapting some of the material of the program to fit rural Maine better, and Paris is one of the few communities in the state that’s signing on. He told selectmen they’d be pioneering with this project.

“I’ve been thinking lately we need something a little more uniquely our own and maybe this is it,” Jamison said. 

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