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Freeport committee, soccer club agree on development of Pownal Road fields

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Freeport committee, soccer club agree on development of Pownal Road fields

FREEPORT — The Field Use Committee has reached a tentative agreement with Seacoast United soccer club to develop additional sports fields at the town-owned Pownal Road property.

The preliminary agreement includes selling the lower portion of the Pownal Road Recreation Facility to Seacoast, which would construct an indoor soccer arena and outdoor turf fields.

Seacoast will donate a negotiable amount of time to the schools for free use of the facility, and the town will construct a road extension from Landfill Road to provide field access and parking. The town and Seacoast will share the expenses associated with the access and parking.

Any cross-county and hiking trails on the site that interfere with the newly constructed fields will be repositioned at no expense to Seacoast.

If after Seacoast surveys the back of the property land and finds it feasible to develop additional fields and an arena, the club may construct a Little League baseball field. Seacoast will clear the land to rough grade when it constructs its development.

If the back portion is not sufficient to build fields, the town will have access to the feasibility study, but soccer club President Mike Healy said Seacoast will still be interested in developing the front portion of the land.

"This is the best we could hope for," Town Councilor Rich DeGrandpre said. "We would have an athletic facility that rivals the communities around us, and it would be paid for."

Field Use Committee member Jeff Zachau said the agreement was exactly where he hoped the negotiations would end.

"I am 100 percent on board with this," he said.

The recommendation will go to the Municipal Facilities Committee and the Town Council on Tuesday, Dec. 1, for approval.

DeGrandpre said the committee has met about six times with Healy to reach the agreement. He said the soccer club is considered one of the most successful, nonprofit athletic organizations in Maine.

The Field Use Committee includes town officials, sports representatives, parents, the School Department athletic director and town recreation members.

Although the recommendations have not yet been approved by Seacoast United directors, DeGrandpre said the agreement is moving in the right direction.

"The committee's goal was to determine if it was in the best interest of the town, the schools and community to partner with Seacoast United," he said. "It seems pretty unanimous that we are at a good starting place."

The nearly 45 acres that make up the existing Pownal Road property have a few fields and cross-country trails. The proposed new developments could include an enclosed and domed track and field arena, two full-sized fields and if there is space, a Little League baseball field. The existing trails may have to be moved, which will be discussed while contractors are surveying the area.

DeGrandpre said the agreement is a "viable option" and a way to get the discussions started.

"There are no real details (financially or otherwise) at this time because the land has to be checked for wetlands and development availability," he said."When the surveys are complete, we will know what is possible."

Healy, DeGrandpre and Town Manager Dale Olmstead met on Tuesday, Nov. 17, to discuss the land agreement framework.

Craig Sickles, Regional School Unit 5 athletic director, said the agreement is the "best of both worlds."

"Seacoast gets a facility, and we get to keep our land," he said. "This is an encouraging, great move for the town."

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