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Freeport, soccer club take 1st step toward indoor/outdoor field project

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Freeport, soccer club take 1st step toward indoor/outdoor field project

FREEPORT — The Town Council and Seacoast United Soccer Club agreed Tuesday night to determine the feasibility of an indoor soccer arena and outdoor turf field on the back portion of the Pownal Road field.

The town and youth soccer club will share the cost of the investigation, not to exceed a total of $30,000. The cost will include whatever action is necessary to receive permits from the Department of Environmental Protection, since the land includes wetlands.

If it is determined the site is not acceptable for construction, Seacoast will give the town the information it gathered. If the site is deemed feasible, the town's costs will be reimbursed and a formal sale of the property will take place.

Seacoast President and Freeport resident Mike Healey said the only binding agreement between the town and Seacoast is the agreement to start a feasibility study.

"Both sides can walk away from this," he said, noting the cost of wetland mitigation could be too high to continue. "There is nothing binding except that we'll spend up to $15,000 and you'll spend up to $15,000 to do the site and development plan," he told the Town Council.

Members of the Field Use Committee met prior to the council meeting, and were able to ask questions regarding field time allocations, uses and relocation of trails.

Healey said if necessary the cross country trails will be relocated to remain on town property, but the details will be determined when the site plans are complete. He also said it will be hard to negotiate time and usage for the fields until the cost of development is determined.

The tentative agreement is that Seacoast will donate time to the town for the use of the facility, which will come off the purchase price. The terms have not been discussed yet, but it is expected to be a minimum of 300 hours per year.

Council Chairman Bill Muldoon said this is an excellent opportunity for the town. The council voted 7-0 to sign the agreement.

In other business, councilors voted unanimously to amend the Public Peddlers Ordinance. They removed the cart space in front of the now-vacant storefront at the corner of Bow and Main streets, which once housed Bath & Body Works.

A Peddlers Task Force has been working to combine the town's ordinances governing public and private peddlers, and this amendment was proposed in order to help increase the marketability of the space.

In the meantime, George Denney, owner of the corner lot, has donated $15,000 to the All Sports Boosters Club and the Port Teen Center – the groups that most recently shared the use of the cart – while the cart's new location is determined.

While some residents questioned the motives for removing the cart space, since there is no replacement in place, Muldoon said the task force will work to find a location that will be profitable.

"I feel confident we could have a greater benefit emerging for a greater number of people," he said.

Sande Updegraph of the Freeport Economic Development Corp. said because Freeport has evolved in the past 20 years, it is now time to move the hot dog cart away from the "heart of the town."

"Having a vendor cart outside an empty storefront may make it difficult to fill that space," she said. "The cart could negatively impact leasing that space. We need a good quality retailer in there."

Jay Yilmaz, owner of the cart, said he understands the need to move the cart, but emphasized the educational benefit to the children who run the cart.

Muldoon said the new ordinance will be vetted as soon as January, and will be ready for the 2011 vending season.

Councilors also approved a new schedule, to meet every other Tuesday with a workshop prior to the regular meeting.

It was also announced that Town Hall will close at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24, and at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 31.

The next council meeting will be Tuesday Jan. 5.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net