HAMPDEN, Maine — The Town Council approved construction of the town’s first public park for toddlers and preschoolers last week and awarded a contract to a Massachusetts company specializing in children’s parks.
“The playground is toddler age-appropriate, which would make it the only one of its kind in the town,” said Town Manager Sue Lessard.
And while one proposed ordinance regulating outdoor recreation areas was referred back to committee, another proposal governing ethics for town councilors and committee appointees was approved by councilors.
The Western Avenue Recreation Area Playground will be built by M.E. O’Brien & Sons at a cost of $20,922, which will be paid out of the town’s enterprise account. The account is funded totally by fees charged people who participate in the town’s Recreation Department programs and activities.
The Medfield, Mass.-based construction company, which submitted the only two bids for the project, will start work in three to five weeks and is expected to have the playground finished and ready for use by late June or early July, according to Lessard.
The council voted 5-1 to approve the project and accept the higher of the two bids — the other was $17,026 but involved installing much less equipment — with only Councilor Kristen Hornbrook voting against it. Councilor Jeremy Williams was absent from the May 7 meeting.
The playground features 12 components in all, including a double slide, tubes and climbing equipment. It was designed for use by children ages 2 to 5 by University of Maine student Meghan Ballard as a capstone project for school.
“This is something that, in terms of a population served, hasn’t really been served in our town history, and it expands the offerings at the Lura Hoyt Pool recreation area,” said Lessard.
In other council action, a new code of ethics was approved concerning such things as ethical standards of conduct, confidential information, potential conflicts of interest, disclosure statements, political activities, gratuities and kickbacks, and other issues that potentially could face councilors and committee members.
The code defines potential areas of concern and addresses possible penalties faced for violations of the code.
It replaces an ethics ordinance adopted 12 years ago.
The vote on the ordinance was 5-1 with Hornbrook the lone dissenter.
Councilors also approved $285,000 in paving work to be done by B and B Paving in Hermon. Work has begun on the project, which involves paving the Patterson, Emerson Mill and Canaan roads as well as the town office upper and lower parking lots over the next two weeks.