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by Jonathan Thomas
Area residents and visitors have begun using the new public access road to Walker Pond, according to comments made by Sedgwick and Brooksville selectmen at their monthly meeting on October 12. Phase one of the work has now been completed. In phase two, under a contract nearly ready to go to bid, the road will be widened to full width and the waterfront facilities completed.
The contractor for phase one, M.E. Astbury and Son, Inc., recently finished the below-the-waterline work of installing the concrete planks for launching boats, which needed to be done before an October 1 environmental protection seasonal deadline.
Former Sedgwick selectman Nelson Grindal, who has been serving as a volunteer on the project, said that Greg Burr, the regional biologist from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, is pleased with how well the ramp has turned out. Now that public access has been established, the state will be able to stock Walker Pond with fish from its hatcheries.
Sedgwick’s First Selectman Neil Davis said safety remains a primary concern, and asked Grindal to install reflectors or other markers along certain sections of the narrow 10-foot wide road.
As reported in the August 11 issue of The Weekly Packet, the towns have been awarded a $250,000 grant to widen the road to 22 feet (including shoulders) and to complete other site improvements previously approved by the state.
At the October 12 meeting, the joint committee of the two boards of selectmen approved a set of bid documents prepared by engineer Andrew McCullough. The selectmen are hoping for quick state approval so bids can go out and the remainder of the work can be completed before winter. “This has worked out remarkably well,” said Davis.
Regarding funding, Davis said that not all bills are in yet, and “we might be on the edge of what we budgeted.” Grindal is following up on obtaining possible reimbursement from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for the recent boat ramp expenditures
In other discussion, Davis said he has begun setting up an educational component of the new access project that will involve the schools of the two towns. He and Brooksville selectman John Gray will meet with the principals and science teachers of the two schools to design school programs that include outdoor lab activities on the site.
Grindal said he has talked with the state forester regarding educational programs for local students in the woods on the property.
Davis said he envisions groups of students establishing campsites that would give them a sense of ownership. He said that if the towns promote use, the result would be a level of self-regulation that would discourage troublemakers.
Over the winter months the committee will continue to meet and develop policies, along with possible regulations and ordinances for the site. The next meeting will be on Wednesday, November 9, at 9 a.m. in the Brooksville town office.
During a discussion of invasive plant issues, John Kimball, a member of the Brooksville budget committee, presented Grindal with a bright yellow T-shirt identifying him as a “Courtesy Inspector, Maine Milfoil Project.”