Bristol Notes - September 2019
For the Bristol Selectmen:
Chris Hall, Town Administrator
Fall – the best time of the year!
With cool nights and warm sunny days, and less traffic on the roads, September and October are regarded as the best time of year by many of us. The down side to the fall is the closure of some of our businesses, as summer visitors trickle away. The Contented Sole closed on Labor Day – their student wait-staff are already back at college. Columbus Day on October 14 – now renamed Indigenous Peoples Day – will be the last chance for this year to eat at the Anchor Restaurant and Dot’s Bakery in Round Pond; at Shaw’s Wharf in New Harbor; and the Seagull Shop at Pemaquid Lighthouse. That Monday also sees the last Hardy Boat trips – so schedule your trip to Monhegan soon! The Bradley Inn’s restaurant is open a little longer – their last day is Saturday October 26th.
Those of us who enjoy the colder weather are grateful to those businesses stay open year-round. In New Harbor, the Harbor Room and the Cupboard Café expect to be open (almost) all winter, as will Deb’s Bristol Diner. In Round Pond, the Friday night community dinners at King Ro Market start for the winter on October 4th, while the Monday night music events continue year-round. The Damariscotta restaurants are open, too, so there’s plenty of choices. If you usually go south for the winter, why not plan to spend a little longer in Bristol this year and enjoy the less crowded season?
Back to School
Bristol Consolidated School resumed classes on Wednesday, August 28th. There are 197 students in this year’s Pre-K through 8th Grade, as numbers continue to bounce back from the low point of 171 in 2016.
Work has continued on the new girls’ ballfield, thanks to the great generosity of donors in the community and to Hanley Construction, who have done much work over and above that specified in their contract with the School Board. The school is still looking for donations for the fencing and the dugouts. Once completed next year, the girls’ softball team will at last be able to welcome visiting teams to a regulation field at the school - and the field will be used by the Bristol Little League in the summer school break.
An end to highway detours and delays!
I write this, the finishing touches are being put on this year’s two major road projects in Bristol – the repaving of Route 130, and the replacement of the Upper Round Pond Road bridge across the Pemaquid River in Bristol Mills.
The paint striping of Route 130 was completed early in the morning of Monday, September 9th, though finishing works on driveways and the Bristol Mills sidewalk are taking a few more days. The Upper Round Pond Road bridge should be open for traffic during the week of September 16th, though finishing work will continue through October to clad the concrete walls with masonry – a reminder of the old stone arch bridge that was demolished in 1984.
We regret that road and bridge work has to take place in the busy summer season – both asphalt and concrete are temperature-sensitive, and work in the river has to take place in a narrow window between upstream and downstream fish migration. There has been considerable inconvenience to residents and visitors this year, which we sincerely regret. Thank you for your patience!
It was eye-opening to hear the Department of Transportation engineers overseeing the Route 130 reconstruction say that in their experience, Route 130 is one of the most dangerous roads for speeding they have worked on. And the DoT District Engineer said that the winding stretch of Route 32 between Chamberlain and New Harbor is the narrowest stretch of state highway in his District!
New ‘traffic calming’ measures will focus on the village areas where people walk. There is already an increased presence of Sheriff’s Deputies this summer, now that the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office is back at full strength. Thanks to generous gifts from a Chamberlain resident and from the Bristol Mills Village Improvement Society, the Town has ordered radar speed feedback signs for those villages. We have also ordered a further mobile radar sign from the DoT which will be moved from place to place in the Town.
Finally in Bristol Mills, where traffic tends to enter the village at high speed due to the steep hills down to the village center, the DoT has approved installing a pedestrian crosswalk next year near the corner of Lower Round Pond Road. This will link the Town Office parking lot with the watering trough and Deb’s Diner. A crosswalk here is for psychology as much as anything: on average they slow traffic down by 5 m.p.h.
Bristol Bicycle-Pedestrian Committee
For longer-term improvements for walkers, runners and bicyclists, the Bicycle-Pedestrian Committee – now known as ‘Bristol Byways’ – is updating the Town’s bicycle-pedestrian plan and studying options to recommend to the Selectmen and next year’s Town meeting.
Bristol Byways is conducting a survey of town residents and visitors, to get an understanding of where people currently walk or bicycle, and seeking your input on improvements for safety and recreational value. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey online. Find the link in the front page ‘Announcements’ at BristolMaine.org.
Bristol hosted some 450 riders on this year’s BikeMaine tour, on Monday September 9th. Stage 2 of the week-long tour took them from Hope, Maine, to Pemaquid Lighthouse and back to Damariscotta for the night, with lunch in Round Pond and rest stops in New Harbor and Bristol Mills.
Common Ground Fair
A hundred years ago, Bristol used to have an annual agricultural fair – in Bristol Mills, opposite todays’ 1812 Farm. Nowadays, Lincoln County has no agricultural fair (though there are fairs close by in Windsor and Pittston). But the Common Ground Fair in Unity, run by the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association (MOFGA), is one of the must-see events in the State of Maine. This year it is from Friday September 20th to Sunday 22nd. See www.mofga.org .
Bristol Parks is getting ready to start construction of the new pavilion at Pemaquid Beach Park. The first stage – removal of the interior contents of the old pavilion, followed by a training burn of the structure by Bristol Fire & Rescue – is expected to take place before the Indigenous People’s Day (Columbus Day) holiday in October.
The Parks Commissioners will soon select the general contractor to construct the new pavilion during this winter. The contract specifies that it will be complete for the reopening of the Park on Memorial Day weekend, May 2020.
Parks has had a banner year for numbers of visitors to both the beach and Lighthouse Parks. As of this writing we are 5% up on last year’s numbers. This will probably increase after Saturday, September 14th which is Open Lighthouse Day in Maine, sponsored by the American Lighthouse Foundation. However it should be pointed out that during the summer in Bristol, every day is Open Lighthouse Day!
Old Bristol Historical Society
In August the Historical Society elected two new co-chairs, Rev. Robert Ives and Russ Lane. Retiring co-chairs Belinda Osier and Chuck Rand did an outstanding job raising the profile of the Society, not least through the purchase of the Pemaquid Mill, and started the Society on a path to create a museum and archive for Bristol at the Mill. Bobby and Russie (as they are less formally known) have jointly taken on the major task of fundraising and planning for what promises to be a major resource for education, genealogy and the preservation of Bristol’s heritage.
Please consider joining O.B.H.S. or making a donation at oldbristolhistoricalsociety.org.
Bristol Fire and Rescue
Chief Paul Leeman, Jr., writes:
Bristol Fire & Rescue has had an extremely busy summer. Usually we experience a structure fire every 12 – 18 months however this summer we have had 4 structure fires in six weeks plus 3 mutual aid structure fires in neighboring towns. Our trainings have paid off as the fires in 2 of the structures were knocked down quickly allowing them to be repaired without demolition. Fortunately, all have been ruled accidental.
We continue to be busy with our First Responder calls and were involved with a long-term search for a missing boater. We have been able to purchase a power cot and automatic chest compressor (used for CPR) through the generous donations that we have received. We continue to provide smoke alarms and replacement batteries to the students of Bristol Consolidated School and will be doing fire education in October. We have a strong membership but are continually trying to seeking new members to join our team. I do want to thank our residents for their continued support making Bristol Fire & Rescue one of Lincoln County’s strongest departments.
In this off-year for elections, the November 5th ballot will be limited to a Constitutional Amendment; a bond issue for the Department of Transportation; and any ‘People’s Veto’ petitions that collect enough signatures by September 18th. This year Bristol will be voting for the first time at the Bristol Mills Fire Station instead of the Town Office. The change is at the request of the Secretary of State’s office, who want more space for voting booths in a high-turnout year – which the 2020 Presidential election is expected to be. 2019 will give us a trial run in the new space.
Polling times: 8 am to 8 pm, Tuesday, November 5th. Early voting (ballot papers available at the Town Office) opens on Monday, October 7th.
Enjoy the fall!
For more information on any of the matters touched on in this report, please email Chris Hall at [email protected]. Thank you for reading!