RUMFORD — A group of volunteers gathered Thursday afternoon to continue discussing possible locations to construct a recreational bridge over the Swift River.

The process began four years earlier when Carl Constanzi, program coordinator for the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program in Oxford County, received a Community Transformation Grant that created four Active Community Environment Teams for Rumford-Mexico, South Paris, Bethel and Sacopee Valley.

One of the projects the Rumford-Mexico team chose was building a recreational bridge a short distance north of the Hosmer Field complex, the site where a wooden covered bridge was built in 1870 and was wiped out in a freak windstorm in 1900.

Carol Emery, a member of the Rumford-Mexico Active Community Environment team, along with team members Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi, Todd Papianou, Barbara Rajaniemi, Brendan Schauffler, Joan Walton, Julie Isbill, Tina West and Town Manager John Madigan, have been working on finding a location to build the multiuse bridge.

The team learned that land on the Rumford side, where the original bridge stood, is owned by the town, but land on the Mexico side is privately owned and the owner is not interested in having a bridge and a trail connected to the property.

Emery said the team is also considering applying for a Maine Recreational Trails Program grant through the Bureau of Parks and Lands. The grant is for building new recreational trails, maintaining and restoring existing ones and developing and rehabilitating trailside and trailhead facilities, as well as trail links.

During Thursday afternoon’s meeting, Emery said the team was investigating plots of land that Rumford owns on both sides of the river. The piece on the Rumford side is near the Hosmer Field parking lots.

Parks Superintendent Mike Mills told the team that the two plots on the Mexico side are “about a quarter of a mile outside of Main Street in Mexico, right alongside the river.”

He said he spoke with Madigan, who confirmed that the town owns the land, but was unsure what it was being used for.

West, who lives in Yarmouth but owns a camp on Worthley Pond and uses the bike trails in the River Valley, asked Emery if there was anything else the group could do to speed things along.

Emery said she planned to reach out to the snowmobile clubs in Rumford and Mexico to learn how they get permission each year from landowners to use trails on their land.

“Even if we were able to build a bridge, we need to see if it would be possible to get permission to use some of those trails for walking or biking in the summer,” Emery said.

She said the team would also have to take the issue to a town meeting to see if residents would vote to allow for a land-use change.

“I’m not sure what either parcel of land is being used for right now, but once we figure it out, the town would have the final say on whether we can use it for a bridge,” Emery said.

The ACE team will meet again Monday, Jan. 25.

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