Brunswick buying land with Mere Point funds, sets rule on food trucks

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BRUNSWICK — The town of Brunswick will allocate $71,500 in proceeds from the sale of 946 Mere Point Road  towards purchasing a parcel of waterfront land on Simpson’s Point Road.

At the same meeting on March 5, councilors voted to set a public hearing on the Cook’s Corner Connector Road Project, and passed an amended ordinance stating food vendors will not be allowed to leave equipment on the Town Mall overnight for more than 10 days a year.

Simpson’s Point

Town Manager John Eldridge said owning the Simpson’s Point parcel will allow the town to provide public access to water in front of the land, and to widen the road alongside it to make parallel parking easier.

Councilors voted 8-1 Monday evening to approve a resolution that would appropriate $71,500 from the sale of 946 Mere Point Road toward acquiring the Councilor Christopher Watkinson was opposed, but did not explain why.

Abutters of the property spoke on the issue, many of whom noted the fragility and steepness of the property and the high number of cars that typically park along the road.

Councilor Jane Millett inquired about plans stating the town could install 23 parking spaces along the road, which she called an “overburdening of the property.”

Eldridge said that number was the maximum that would fit in the space, and the town is only planning to install parallel parking “pretty much where it exists now.” He also said funding to install the parking will need to be approved by the council at a later date.

Councilor Stephen Walker said he thinks the next step in the process will be for the Rivers and Coastal Waters Commission to discuss future management of the property, along with abutters, the Recreation Department, Conservation Commission and the Department of Marine Resources.

Councilor Suzan Wilson said regardless of the property’s capacity as a beach, which abutters also talked about, it still has value to Brunswick residents.

“I think it’s safe to say that whether or not it’s the most perfect swimming beach, there are some uses for that parcel which would have value to the citizens for water access,” she said.

Connector Road

Following a presentation from Economic Development Director Lynda Smith, the council voted unanimously to set a public hearing on March 19 regarding the planning, construction and funding of the $2.5 million Cook’s Corner Connector Road Project.  The public hearing is required for the Town Council’s final approval of a funding ordinance, which would authorize the issuance of up to $1.2 million in bonds to finance construction.

The new road would connect Gurnet Road to Admiral Fitch Avenue, with a goal of providing easier access between Brunswick Landing and Cook’s Corner. Plans for the road were unanimously approved by the Planning Board Jan. 9.

In December, councilors voted to form a tax increment finance district in the Cook’s Corner area to give the town another source of funding for the project.

On Monday evening, Smith provided a timeline for the rest of the project, saying with the public hearing March 19, the town will receive a necessary stormwater permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection March 21, release bid specifications March 23, receive bid proposals April 13, award the bid May 4 and begin construction this fall.

Town Manager John Eldridge said at this point, the town has the plans for the project “pretty much bid-ready.”

Revenues from the Cook’s Corner TIF, paired with the two TIFs at Brunswick Landing, will fund the debt service on the bonds. One-third of the project cost, up to $815,850, will be provided by a Business Partnership Initiative grant from the Maine Department of Transportation.

Food vendors

A month after discussions began, councilors unanimously passed an amended ordinance for food vendors on the Town Mall that will not allow vendors to pay to keep their trucks on the Mall overnight for an extended period, as previously discussed. Councilors also held a public hearing on the issue.

In early February, councilors began discussions on amending the current ordinance for food vendors on the Town Mall, which originally only allowed vendors to keep their trucks on the Mall for six nights per year.

After discussing safety, trash pickup, use of public land, electrical costs and wear and tear on the mall, councilors voted unanimously to amend the ordinance from allowing vendors to keep their carts on the Mall for six nights per year to 10 nights.

The amendment also requires vendors to provide at least one covered trash receptacle and one recycling receptacle, and owners have to remove the trash and recycling daily.

The council also heard public comment about moving the town’s polling place from Brunswick Junior High to the Parks & Recreation Center at Brunswick Landing, but tabled the item until its March 19 meeting due to the late hour.

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Terry Goan, owner of Twist N’ Dip, one of the food vendors OKed to operate at Brunswick Town Mall, speaks in front of Councilors James Mason, at left, Alison Harris and Kathy Wilson on Monday night, when the council voted on the maximum number of nights a year vendors can keep their equipment overnight on The Mall.