Group presents $3.5M plan for Freeport fields, trails

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FREEPORT — The Freeport Fields and Trails Committee is proposing three baseball diamonds, four fields, a two-story field house and an extensive trail system on 34 acres off Hunter Road.

The committee members – David Latulippe, Adam Nappi, Candice Rinaldi, Jeff Zachau and Dan Broderick – explained their vision of multi-use athletic fields and trails to nearly 150 residents, business owners, parents, students, coaches and town officials at the Freeport Community Center on Tuesday.

Latulippe said with the support of Freeport Economic Development Corp., the land will be used for sports and outdoor activities for the entire community.

The parcel connects to nearly 260 acres of town-owned land on Hedgehog Mountain for cross-country skiing, mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing. The schools will be able use it for tournaments and events, and the community will use it for many activities such as Little League games and adult leagues.

There will be a sledding hill, skating rink and a parking lot for 290 cars.

The group also has an agreement with Seacoast United Maine, the nonprofit soccer club based in Topsham that bought 17 acres of land from the town on Pownal Road to build two turf fields and a indoor arena. Latulippe said because of permitting problems, Seacoast United cannot build both fields on its land.

In exchange for a place to build the field, Seacoast will allow the schools and community to use the field with no restrictions every year from July 1 to Jan. 1.

The proposal is estimated to cost up to $3.5 million, Latulippe said. The land cost will be $425,000, the recreational lodge is estimated to cost $575,000, and the site work for the fields and trails will cost about $1.9 million. A three-year field maintenance plan will be about $375,000 and the contingency is $200,000.

The panel has completed an engineering study, wetland study, soil tests, field and trail layout plans, recreational lodge plan and the budget and cost estimates. Latulippe said the permitting will be complete by spring, construction will take place in the summer, the trails will be ready for use by fall and the fields will be playable by the fall of 2012.

“We feel these goals are achievable,” he said.

Broderick said his motivation for involvement in the project was wanting his two daughters to have use of outdoor facilities and because field space in Freeport is lacking.

“We saw there was a need and finally decided to do something about it,” he said. “We put our own money into it.”

Although students, coaches, parents, town councilors, directors of Regional School Unit 5, the executive directors of the Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce and Freeport Economic Development Corp., abutters and business owners all spoke in support of the proposal, not everyone was ready to get behind it.

Derek Lovitch, a resident of Pownal and owner of Freeport Wild Bird Supply, said the proposal does not address many of his concerns.

He questioned the proximity of the fields to the landfill and was concerned about the use of chemicals used to maintain the fields. He wanted to know about event parking, light pollution, traffic from potential tournaments and events, safety issues and the potential for negative impact to the land.

“This project is not shovel ready, it is only the start of what needs to be done,” he said.

Foremer RSU 5 board member Kristen Dorsey also voiced concerns about how to raise the funds for the project and questioned how to maintain contingency and upkeep going forward. She said with a proposal from the Athletic and Recreational Facilities Advisory Committee to build a campus complex with a track at the high school and fields at the middle school, fundraising for both projects could be difficult.

Latulippe said the next step is to present the plan to the Town Council and talk about funding sources. The RSU 5 fields committee was scheduled to present its plan at a meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 16, after The Forecaster’s deadline.

To see the plans and for updates, go to freeportecon.com.

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

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