Bath council seeks offers for former YMCA property

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a request for proposals to develop the former YMCA property at 26 Summer St.

The panel also unanimously granted second and final approval to adding a prohibition on electronic smoking devices in parks and recreation facilities to Bath’s public smoking ban.

The RFP could go out in early January, Economic Development Director Scott LaFlamme said Wednesday. They will be due back six weeks later, and the council could reach a decision on which, if any, redevelopment course to take in late March, LaFlamme said.

“You simply don’t allow anything you don’t want,” City Manager Bill Giroux told the council, adding that the property belongs to the city, and “you can sell it or not sell it. You’re simply saying, ‘we’d like to field some offers.'”

Residences, professional and corporate offices, and entertainment establishments such as restaurants and ice cream parlors are among desired uses listed in the six-page RFP.

The city tore down the YMCA building – also the former home of the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark – in January 2012. The vacant half-acre lot sits across the street from the Patten Free Library, and is in the Downtown Commercial zone.

When a development group recently approached the city about the site, staff decided the matter should be brought to the council to allow other developers to submit proposals, too, LaFlamme said in an Oct. 26 memo to the panel.

E-cigs eliminated

The prohibition on use of electronic smoking devices in public spaces includes e-cigarettes and e-hookahs, as well as vaping products. First passage of the ordinance change came last month.

Maine last October was the fourth state to pass a law banning such devices from places where traditional cigarettes are banned, including restaurants, playgrounds, work sites and beaches, according to Steve Balboni, Bath’s Parks and Recreation director.

The Bath Recreation Commission recommended the ordinance change at its meeting in October, Balboni said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.