North Yarmouth veterans park gets new leadership

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NORTH YARMOUTH — North Yarmouth Veterans Memorial Park has a new board of directors, new officers, and a new set of bylaws.

The five-acre park, which sits at the corner of Memorial Highway (Route 9) and Parsonage Road, was created in 1949, on land provided by Henry Sweetser.

In a gathering Sept. 25 that crowded the meeting room at the Town Office, the acting board of directors – Selectmen Steve Palmer and Paul Napolitano, and former Selectman Rob Wood – unanimously approved bylaws proposed for the park by a new group that wants to take an active role in the long-range planning and protection of the property.

The new board of directors consists of Thaddeus Day, a resident who runs a law practice on Walnut Hill Road (Route 115), former Selectman Darla Hamlin, and Kevin Robinson.

The acting directors unanimously approved that slate of new directors for a vote by the whole membership, which supported the new trio by a show of hands.

After the new directors took their seats, officers were nominated from the floor, and the membership approved Eric Robinson as president, Paul Hodgetts as vice president, Richard Brobst as treasurer and Shari Cochran as secretary. The Board of Selectmen must also appoint a liaison to the corporation.

The group, which ended its approximately half-hour meeting with a round of applause, meets again at the Town Office at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15.

The tenor of the week’s meeting was different from the concern over the park’s stewardship expressed earlier this year by some residents, who have wanted to ensure the park remains intact and dedicated to its original purpose.

The park was created in part to “honor the citizens of North Yarmouth … who have served in the defense of their country and to perpetuate their names and the record of their services,” according to its certificate of corporation.

Despite concerns expressed by some that the Board of Selectmen has been discussing dissolving the corporation and taking over the park, for whatever purpose the town chooses, Palmer – the board’s chairman – said that was not the case.

Veterans originally ran the park corporation, but by the 1970s they had “lost contact with the park,” Palmer said previously, leaving the town to take over its maintenance. “(The town) became its manager; it became its management company.”

The acting board of directors took over that task, continued to pay the corporation fee and made sure the park’s maintenance continued.

“People thought that the town was going to take over the veterans park,” Palmer said. “… The board has no interest in doing anything with that piece of property, other than making sure that someone is taking care of it.”

“Members of the North Yarmouth Memorial Park Corp. are happy that control of the corporation is now in the hands of persons without potentially conflicting obligations to the Town, as the prior self-appointed directors and officers were (selectmen),” Day said Sept. 26 in an email.

“The new members appreciate the work and cooperation of the exiting directors and officers,” he added. “We anticipate the Town will continue to support the small electric bill and grounds keeping related to the Park. The new members hope to improve access and use of the Park.”

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

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.