Brunswick accepts free park space from housing group
BRUNSWICK — Families who live in the affordable housing units on McKeen Street will soon have an improved and revitalized park after the Town Council accepted the free land Monday from Affordable Midcoast Housing.
The town also conditionally accepted a few adjoining streets to the park from the housing group.
"This is a huge asset , a huge opportunity," Councilor David Watson said. "And as we go on, I think public-private partnerships are going to be on the rise."
While many councilors lauded the park space as a great asset to the neighborhood and town, one councilor voiced concerns about safety and parking.
Councilor John Perrault said that while he supports the general idea of the park, he opposed the proposal because he thinks power lines in the area pose a safety risk for those who will use a baseball field and basketball court.
The council voted 7-1 for the acquisition.
According to memo from Town Manager Gary Brown, the acceptance is another step in further integrating the former Navy housing into the town. He said the town met with Central Maine Power Co. to investigate concerns about the power lines and determined there wouldn't be a problem.
"There is no concern regarding a possible situation where a basketball or baseball or other object could hit the lines and result in the lines falling down," Brown wrote.
Perrault also took issue with the lack of dedicated parking in the area.
"I do understand there is parking along (McKeen Street), but then it will narrow what people can do," Perrault said. "They didn't widen the street to encourage more parking, they did it to make the road safer."
As part of the agreement between the town and Affordable Midcoast Housing, the housing group will pay the town to improve and maintain the land, based on estimates made by the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Affordable Midcoast Housing's first check will amount to more than $95,000.
David Gleason at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said this new development will be beneficial for the neighborhood and the town. So far, he said, his brokerage has sold 17 units and 10 more are pending.
"Whenever you have this high-density residential area, I think its important to preserve open space," Gleason said. "I can't tell how many people have said that it's important to keep these open lands available."
The park land is located between houses on the McKeen Street block between Moore and Columbia avenues, continues on the block between Columbia and Shobe avenues, and then goes to the west of Columbia.
Scott Howard of Affordable Midcoast Housing said the third batch of land that goes west of Columbia Avenue is being conveyed for added neighborhood connectivity and the potential for new trails.
In addition to the park space, the town accepted roads that adjoin the neighborhood and some of the park space – including Columbia and Moore avenues, along with Emanuel Drive – on the condition that they pass review by the town engineer.
According to an Oct. 11 memo from Brown, the acceptance of the roads was "necessary to facilitate the next round of sales of some of the homes."