Cumberland eyes moving Public Works to Fairgrounds

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CUMBERLAND — The town is negotiating with the Cumberland Fairgrounds board about moving the Public Works Department to part of the Fairgrounds’ 197 Blanchard Road property.

“We have gotten permission to do some survey work and some wetland delineation on about a 10-acre parcel near the power lines on the Fairgrounds property, which is well over 100 acres,” Town Manager Bill Shane said in an interview Aug. 17.

Shane said he met with the Fairgrounds board, which was receptive to continuing discussions on the matter. The exact location of the garage would still be a moving target, since it might not be acceptable to the Cumberland Farmers Club, he said.

“We tried to pick the area that would be least disruptive and farthest away from abutters,” Shane said.

Having Public Works on the property could help the Fairgrounds with infrastructure issues, such as water and roads, he added.

Mike Timmons, president of the Farmers Club, said in an interview Monday that he sees many advantages to such an arrangement, but the club’s 135 members would have to discuss the matter.

“We’ve been good neighbors with the town,” Timmons said, pointing out that town police and fire services are hired for the week-long county fair in September. He also praised the Public Works Department for aiding the Fairgrounds when necessary.

The soonest the town would have an answer from the Fairgrounds board would likely be at its annual meeting in December, Shane said.

The town’s proposed site would be in the western corner of the Fairgrounds property, about 1,700 feet northwest of Bruce Hill Road and adjacent to a Central Maine Power Co. power line corridor. The land is now used for overflow camping and housing for carnival workers during the fair, Shane said.

Sam York of the town’s Conservation Commission brought the idea to Shane, the manager said. While other properties under consideration for the garage had prohibitive development costs, “this one is fairly flat, fairly cleared,” Shane said.

Cumberland had eyed a vacant town-owned parcel next to the Town Forest, and about 1,000 feet back from Tuttle Road, as a new location for the Public Works facility on Drowne Road, where space has become tight.

“When you look at the Town Forest property, the highest and best use of the land – because it’s in our growth area – is most likely some type of housing,” Shane said. “… Yes, it’s in the center of town, yes, we own the land, but at the same time we have a potential there to turn it into something that will benefit the community more than an industrial facility.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

This image shows where a new Cumberland Public Works facility could be built at the Cumberland Fairgrounds. The garage would be at top left, Bruce Hill Road is at bottom, and Blanchard Road is at right.

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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.