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Downtown Bath playground proposal goes to economic development panel

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Downtown Bath playground proposal goes to economic development panel

BATH — A proposal for a playground and parking area at the vacant former YMCA property on Summer Street is going to the city's Economic Development Committee.

The panel will determine to what degree the land can be developed, and how that might impact the plan as presented to the City Council July 16 by the design committee of the Main Street Bath organization, City Planner Andrew Deci said Monday.

The reaction from the council was mixed, according to both Deci and David Matero, chairman of the design committee and a director of Main Street Bath.

Questions included how much Bath needs another playground, how much the city should be involved in the creation of such a facility, whether a playground should be built downtown, and whether the city-owned property should be saved for another purpose, Deci said.

Support for the proposal was evident on the city's Facebook page.

"This is a terrific idea and long overdue," Miriam Johnson wrote. "That's the perfect spot – would add one more option of things to do downtown and draw more families to the area. And I love that the designers have opted for something that embraces the 'city of ships' theme and the natural landscape."

Unlike much playground equipment seen elsewhere, this playground would incorporate more natural elements, according to Matero. Rocks, timbers, a climbing course, a sandbox and an amphitheater could be among the elements.

"It's more about play and pretending, than it is gross motor skills, (or) what you'd find in your schoolyard playgrounds," Matero said last week.

The playground would also include maritime elements, to invoke Bath's shipbuilding heritage. There could also be an area for outdoor furniture and ping-pong tables.

A parking area, across the street from the Patten Free Library, would be for public use and provide about 10 spaces. The library parking lot is a tight area, and more parking spaces for Library Park and the nearby north end of Front Street would also be helpful, Deci noted.

The playground would be intended to bring younger families to downtown Bath, and provide greater age diversity, Matero said.

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