Bath likely to borrow $450K to tear down old YMCA; council to discuss fireworks ban

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday gave unanimous first approval to borrowing up to $450,000 to demolish the former YMCA on Summer Street.

The bond ordinance is expected to receive final approval next month.

The council also scheduled a workshop for Nov. 9 to discuss a ban on fireworks in the city. A state law that takes effect Jan. 1, 2012, legalizes consumer fireworks, but allows municipalities to enact local restrictions on use and sale.

Demolition of the old Y, which the City Council approved last month, could begin in December, City Manager Bill Giroux said.

Complete demolition of the Y – which was replaced when the Bath Area Family YMCA opened on Centre Street in 2001 – was one of three options presented to councilors by Stephen Blatt Architects. It could cost more than $410,000.

In light of that estimate, the council reduced the original proposed bond amount of $500,000 to $450,000.

The council last month also authorized the Parks and Recreation Department to move the existing assets of the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark – which has operated at the old Y – to the former National Guard Armory for storage until use of that Old Brunswick Road building has been determined.

The council additionally appropriated $5,000 from its contingency account to pay for preliminary studies of improvements, renovations and repairs at the armory. Last year, the council approved borrowing up to $175,000 to purchase the building.

The fate of the armory will be discussed in a City Council workshop at City Hall at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19. Both that meeting and the Nov. 9 workshop will allow public comment.

On the subject of fireworks, Giroux said the city’s police and fire chiefs indicated “they have great concern given the density of much of the city.”

“There certainly is need to be concerned, if you picture the more dense residential areas of the city … where you have buildings that are right next to each other,” he added, noting that someone firing a large amount of fireworks on Independence Day could create problems for neighbors and public safety personnel.

Fire Chief Steve Hinds said he is not a proponent because he is concerned about their use in places like apartment complexes.

“There are entire sections of this city that are too compressed for any type of fireworks, period,” he said. “… You can shoot off basic fireworks at one address, and (have) it land numerous addresses away. That’s a huge problem for us.”

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.