2017-07-12 / Front Page

Permission granted for Kingfield bike trail use

By Dee Menear Irregular Staff Writer

KINGFIELD — Kingfield Trail Builders cleared a major hurdle in extending its trail when selectmen voted to allow the group to use town-owned land along the Carrabassett River for bike trails. Over the last year, the group has built a .5 mile beginner level mountain bike trail, with alternate routes that have a few intermediate challenges. The trail is located off Stanley Avenue on town property.

Spokesperson and Kingfield Trail Builders Treasurer Polly MacMichael presented selectmen with information they had asked for at the June 5 selectmen’s meeting, including the group’s membership, mission and work done investigating landowner permissions to extend the trail.

According to materials presented to selectmen, the group’s mission is to create a non-motorized trail system in Kingfield. Its vision is to build trails that can be used year-round by people of all ages and abilities for walking, running, biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

“Parking is becoming an issue, so getting a trail to the parking lot is going to be essential,” MacMichael said. The initial plan includes connecting the trail to the gateway parking lot using landowner permissions she explained. Selectmen were in favor of giving the group permission to use the land.

The group’s Secretary, Nancy Thomas of Freeman, asked selectmen if there was a way the town could give them $500.

At the June Town Meeting, voters denied the group’s request for $4,000 from TIF. “If the town voted that down at the town meeting, does that still allow them to have access to the TIF,” asked Selectman Wade Browne.

Administrative Assistant Leanna Targett suggested if the request was for TIF funding, the issue should go back before voters. Browne stated people might be more in favor of funding the project since there was more information available now about the effort.

MacMichael stated it was her understanding the article was voted down because the group was not an officially recognized town committee.

“Maybe we throw a bone out to get them going, but not be a ‘come every year for TIF funds,’” remarked Browne. Selectmen agreed to take $500 from the recreation fund for the group.

“We will take it out of the rec department for this year but that doesn’t mean it will happen every year,” Brown cautioned, “I think we are all working on the same goal, we are just trying to figure out the best pocket to take it from.”

In response to the group’s request to become an official town-recognized committee, Selectman Brian Hatfield suggested the group be a stand-alone club, much like the Sno-Wanderers Snowmobile Club and the Kingfield Quad Runners ATV Club. “That way you are available for public funding, private funding and anything else. I would be opposed if it became a sub-section of the Recreation Committee,” he explained. The board agreed.

MacMichael explained those clubs had a hierarchy with their respective state clubs and there was no such state club for mountain bike trails.

MacMichael also inquired about what needed to be done to get a warrant article written for the Sept. 25 Special Town Meeting. She suggested changing the day of the week the annual June Town Meeting is held could increase voter turnout. Currently, the meeting is held the first Saturday in June. If it were held on a weekday evening a wider crowd would be drawn to the meeting, MacMichael suggested.

“We tried this a couple times before and it failed miserably,” stated Browne. He explained that MacMichael could start the petition process, but generally controversial issues are saved for the annual meeting. Browne stated Maine Municipal Association is on the board’s side with the warrant process.

“There is no way, no petition we can have signed, there is nothing we can do to have it on the warrant for the Special Town Meeting,” MacMichael asked the board.

“By all means, you can do a petition,” Targett stated. However, she explained Maine Municipal Association had the final say in when an article could be acted upon.

MacMichael asked if there were a petition, if it would sway the board’s decision to add it to the Special Town Meeting. “It wouldn’t be from me. Only because it is a big deal,” stated Browne. He stated voter turnout was not high enough during a Special Town Meeting to decide an issue that would affect the entire Town. Selectman John Dill agreed.

The Special Town Meeting is being held to elect a new selectman. Heather Moody resigned effective June 30 and so the remainder of her two-year term needs to be filled. Papers are available at the Town Office for anyone interested in running for the position. Papers, with the required number of signatures, must be returned by Aug. 11.

In other news, Targett informed the board that Kingfield was not a recipient for Community Block Development Grant Micro-Enterprise funding. In the past years, several businesses in town benefited from the grants.

Selectmen elected Browne to continue as Chairman and John Dill as Vice-Chairman.

The board meets the first and third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in Webster Hall. Meetings are open to the public and attendance is encouraged. The next meeting will be held July 17.

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