Bristol Notes - December 2018
This is the second quarterly Bristol Newsletter.
For the Bristol Selectmen:
Chris Hall, Town Administrator
Winter arrived early in Bristol this year, with two mid-November snowfalls testing the preparedness of the plow crews (they passed the test with flying colors!). December has been snow-free so far (as of December 11th), but we are in the deep freeze. The holidays are fast approaching and the Flying Santa made his annual visit, landing at the Lighthouse Park by helicopter on Saturday, December 8th.
With winter, the focus of the Town Office staff turns to preparing the budget for 2019 and the March Town Meeting. There are still projects under way – see below – though most of the construction and maintenance work for the year is over.
One reminder to all residents: dog licenses are renewable in January each year at the Town Office (though you can pay in advance this month if that’s more convenient). Please make sure your dog’s rabies vaccination is up to date!
Town Projects (1): Solar energy
The solar array at the Bristol–South Bristol Transfer Station was officially turned on, at long last (thank you, CMP) on December 6th. Between this and the rooftop array at the School, we now generate about 75% of all the electricity we consume at the Town’s buildings – school, Town Hall, fire houses, parks, and the town garage. This will save the Town about 10% on our electric bills for now, and if we elect to buy the arrays in seven years’ time at a depreciated cost, should save us much more.
The solar arrays have attracted attention, and inquiries as to how individual homeowners might take advantage of solar energy without major capital investment. One option we will be looking at next year would be to use the Town’s former landfill site, on Foster Road, for a solar farm managed as a cooperative, in which residents can buy shares and receive its solar energy via the grid. A similar venture on River Road in Edgecomb is an example of what local communities are doing: see http://www.midcoastgreencollaborative.org/articles/edgecomb_solar.html
Town Projects (2): Bristol Mills Dam and fish ladder
This month we are applying for the permits needed to start work on the fish ladder beginning in July 2019, after the fish migrate and the river level drops. For in-water work, we need permits from the Departments of Environmental Protection and the US Army Corps of Engineers, and for the fish ladder we need the OK from the Department of Marine Resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. We have been fortunate to have the design services of Curtis Orvis, the retired head of fish passage engineering for US Fish and Wildlife, who also designed the Damariscotta Mills fish ladder – his name opens doors in the regulatory community!
One necessary preliminary task is under way this month – the replacement of the deck of the Varney Bridge on Redonnett Mill Road. This is the bridge immediately below the Bristol Mills Dam, which construction vehicles will need to cross next year to access the fish ladder. It had a 12-ton weight limit, and the state bridge inspectors have been writing it up for attention for years. The work should be finished in January.
Town Projects (3): Pemaquid Beach Park pavilion
As reported in the September newsletter, the Parks and Recreation Department are the recipient of a $300,000 foundation grant for replacement of the old beach pavilion, and we are hoping for the award in January of an additional, matching grant. A tentative design has been submitted to public information meetings by the architects, and a more detailed design incorporating public feedback will be presented at the Town meeting on March 19th. The goal is to construct the new pavilion after the summer 2019 beach high season.
Perhaps the biggest news in Bristol since the September newsletter has been the successful campaign to acquire the old mill at Pemaquid Falls, part of the former Hammond Lumber property on Route 130 where the Pemaquid River empties into tidewater.
An ad hoc group of Friends of the Pemaquid Mill, including the two major land trusts in Bristol, the Damariscotta River Association (DRA) and the Pemaquid Watershed Association (PWA), the Old Bristol Historical Society and others, aimed to raise $360,000 to purchase the property, with a closing deadline set for December 15th. The appeal was spectacularly successful: $408,000 has been raised from more than 360 individual donors in just three months. Some of the extra money will be needed to remediate the arsenic that has been found on the property, the legacy of years of storage of pressure-treated lumber which until 2004 was treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA). As this is written, the DRA is negotiating with Hammond Lumber to agree a remediation plan before the sale is concluded.
The mill property is a great first acquisition for the newly-combined DRA and PWA: the two land trusts voted overwhelmingly to merge in October (just one opposing vote in a public meeting of over 200 members). The acquisition will conclude Phase I of the work of the Friends of the Pemaquid Mill. In Phase II, much of the site will be developed as a park and trail head, but the old mill itself – with a water turbine dating to the 1820s – will be leased for $1 for 99 years to the Old Bristol Historical Society, who are developing a restoration plan. This will be an ambitious, multi-year project! Persons interested in helping develop the Master Plan for the property or (especially) with skills appropriate to the restoration of the Mill, should contact Phil Averill at 529-5349 or by email at [email protected].
Bristol Fire and Rescue
Fire Chief Paul Leeman, Jr., transitioned to working full-time for the Town on November 1st, a major change for the way Bristol Fire & Rescue operates. The need for a full-time Chief was recognized by the 2018 Town Meeting after long debate within the Fire Department and the Town, and reflects the increasing demands for paperwork, training, and general professionalism faced by every volunteer fire company today. Paul has taken early retirement from the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Laboratory in Walpole to be able to commit to the full-time position.
From September through November, the Department responded to 128 calls, including 44 fire calls and 74 First Responder medical calls.
Parks and Recreation
For the second year, the Parks Department is sponsoring a ‘Best Christmas Lights’ competition. Please nominate a neighbor or enter yourself – information and entry forms are online at https://www.bristolmaine.org/parks-recreation/webforms/deck-homes-2018-holiday-decorating-contest. All funds raised will go to the new Bristol Veterans’ Memorial, to be located at Ellingwood Park. Judging (by the Parks Commission and the Lincoln County News) will be on the evening of December 20th.
New Harbor Moorings
The space for moorings in New Harbor is finite, the waiting list is long, and pressure has grown as the average size of boats increases. This year there have been instances of damage from contact between boats swinging on their moorings. The Harbor Committee is reluctant to reduce the number of moorings (and space them out). An interim measure that they plan to take is to restrict use of moorings to boats registered to that mooring, and to not allow floats on moorings.
The Harbor Committee and the Selectmen have voted approval of an amendment to the Harbor Ordinance reading, “New Harbor Mooring Usage. As of March 19, 2019, all moorings are for assigned boats only.” This will be the subject of a Public Hearing at the Selectmen’s meeting on January 16th, 2019 (7 pm at the Town Office), and then voted on by the Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 19th.
If you are unable to attend either the Public Hearing or the Town Meeting, you are welcome to send comments on the proposed Amendment to Rachel Bizarro, the Town Clerk who serves as secretary to the Harbor Committee, at [email protected].