NORTH YARMOUTH — The first phase of a town center economic development plan is expected to begin this fall with the thinning of trees near Town Hall.
North Yarmouth voters in June approved spending $155,000 for the work, which is designed to turn a triangular area in the center of town into a more visible, active and inviting town center. The expense is to be funded through a multi-year bond.
The area includes Town Hall and runs from the intersection of Route 9 and Route 115, up Route 115 and down Parsonage Lane, and then back along Route 9 to the intersection with Route 115.
A sidewalk from the fire barn to Wescustogo Hall will be installed, along with a path that would lead from the hall to an approximately 70-foot bridge that would span Toddy Brook ravine. A trail would lead from there to Town Hall, tying both sides of the town property together for pedestrian access.
The town’s Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, which is spearheading what has been proposed as a multi-year project, met July 18 with members of the Board of Selectmen to discuss how to move forward.
The committee plans to work the rest of this summer with landscape architect Patrick Carroll on the tree work.
“We’re going to identify areas where we’re going to thin and clear, with him flagging (them),” committee member David Perkins said last week. “And then in late August we’re going to invite the public and the selectmen to walk the area with us to see where we intend to thin the woods, to improve the view corridors of the Town Hall.”
The committee hopes the thinning will occur in early fall, and will also lay out where the sidewalk will be from the fire barn to Wescustogo Hall.
The Toddy Brook bridge portion of the work will come next. Committee members will look into ways to acquiring a bridge at the cheapest cost, and the Planning Board or Board of Selectmen could be involved in dealing with crossing that stream, Perkins said. The work could take place next spring.
The committee is also looking into grants to fund trails intended for later phases.
Future phases, which would have to be approved by voters, could include an entry to Town Hall from Route 115; walking trails and a playground, and relocating the Old Town House from where it sits further north on Route 9.
Development of a business park at the spent, town-owned Cassidy Pit could also come later, as well as reuse of North Yarmouth Memorial School, due to close next year.
“We’re really urging the selectmen to focus on redevelopment of the school as a top priority,” Perkins said. “… They’re kind of waiting to see what the School Department is doing, but we’re urging them to jump out ahead of it.”