Bath council to seek proposals for former YMCA property

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BATH — The City Council next month will review a draft document for a request for proposals to develop the former YMCA property on Summer Street.

The council on Wednesday also unanimously gave initial approval to adding a prohibition on electronic smoking devices in parks and recreation facilities to the city’s existing public smoking ban.

The city tore down the YMCA building – also the former home of the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark – in January 2012. The vacant lot is across the street from the Patten Free Library.

After a development group approached the city recently about exploring the site, staff decided it was best to bring the matter to the council to allow other developers to submit RFPs as well, Economic Development Director Scott LaFlamme said in an Oct. 26 memo to the panel.

The council will agree on “a list of acceptable uses that would then be advertised and sent directly to developers that we think may have interest,” LaFlamme explained, adding that the material would be available to developers for four to six weeks.

After receiving and reviewing proposals, the council can choose to sell the property to a developer or group, or to not proceed with any of the ideas.

LaFlamme asked that, in advance of next month’s meeting, councilors think about what they would prefer to see the site used for; a list of allowed uses, based on Bath’s Land Use Code, will be available at the meeting. The more detailed the city’s RFP, “the more defined responses you will get,” LaFlamme said.

E-cigarettes ban

The ban electronic smoking devices in public spaces would include products like e-cigarettes and e-hookahs, as well as vaping products. Final passage of the ordinance change is expected next month.

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

The Bath Recreation Commission recommended the ordinance change at its meeting last month, Balboni said.

Councilor James Omo asked whether the ordinance would be amended again to add marijuana, if Question 1 on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot – which would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana as an agricultural product – is approved.

City Manager Bill Giroux noted that recreational marijuana would already be banned from city parks and ball fields.

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.