Housing group offers free park space to Brunswick

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BRUNSWICK — Affordable Midcoast Housing is offering recreational space to the town in hopes of creating a new park for its housing units on McKeen Street, although a few concerns will need to be addressed if Brunswick accepts the offer.

The idea was presented to the Town Council for discussion Monday night.

“One of the goals that has been stated since the closing of the naval air station … is to try to make sure we try to integrate the navy housing into the community to the greatest extent possible,” Town Manager Gary Brown said while introducing the agenda item.

“I think this goes a long way to assuring that (the space) will remain as recreation assets and open space, so that the families moving into that area and the families which abut that area will have full enjoyment of (them),” Brown said.

The recreational space is located on the McKeen Street block between houses on Columbia and Moore avenues. It includes a basketball court, baseball diamond and playground equipment along with some trails.

“I love the idea of having these spaces. I honestly would like to see further integration with these neighborhoods,” Councilor Sarah Brayman said.

According to a proposal from the housing group,  Affordable Housing would pay the town $95,500 to pay for maintenance, equipment and labor costs required for the space improvements.

Brown said there was concern about electrical transmission lines that hang over parts of the park.

“(Central Maine Power) has expressed that the integrity of those power lines are such that they should not be a concern in terms of any fear that somebody could throw a basketball at the power line and cause the power line to come down,” the town manager said.

“Those power lines have such structural integrity that that’s not going to happen.”

But Councilor Benet Pols said he had concerns about limited parking in the area and about how the power lines might affect the use of the baseball field.

“(The lines are) hanging low, about 10 feet to the left of home plate and going diagonally across the pitcher’s mound,” Pols said. He questioned if the power line placement would be allowed under baseball regulations.

But he said if the ball field wasn’t used for games it wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

The council is expected to make a decision regarding the land by Oct. 15.

In other business, the council voted 8-1 to amend an ordinance that will rezone a block of Federal Street, between Center and Mason streets, to a Town Center 1 District.

Councilor John Perrault was opposed.

The rezoning is a required in order for the town to acquire land for the new police station, at Pleasant and Stanwood steets, from Brunswick Development Corporation.

As part of an agreement with the town, the BDC will receive the town hall building at 28 Federal St. in exchange. The BDC is expected to start using the building in 2014.

The town is expected to start using the McClellan building at the corner of Station and Union avenues as town hall by then.

The Town Center 1 District zoning will allow BDC to use the building as office space, which was previously only allowed for the town.

The BDC bought the land at Stanwood and Pleasant streets in June 2011 to speed up site acquisition for the town.

Counstruction for the new police station is expected to begin in December.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.