DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Using $600,000 in brownfield cleanup funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the town has been working to convert the former Maine Leathers Tannery property — also known as Browns Mill — along the Piscataquis River into an area for the public to recreate at.
During a Sept. 24 meeting, the Dover-Foxcroft Board of Selectmen voted to adopt the concept plan for the restoration and redevelopment of the river walk through the land. The plan establishes short- and long-term goals, with more immediate work to include site stabilization and erosion control.
Town Manager Jack Clukey said the concept plan was developed in part after both a stakeholders group and town officials walked through the property over the summer. He said the concept plan provides landscaping queues for where motorized vehicles can and cannot go.
“There’s plantings that are critical for erosion control,” Clukey said of another item identified in the Browns Mill concept plan. He said some plantings should be done in the near future to help stabilize portions of the 36-acre property — about two-thirds of which is being left undisturbed.
“The plan basically is keeping access restricted this fall, then will open the site up in the winter for snowshoeing and skiing, and then open up for next summer,” Clukey said.
“There’s nothing here that prohibits us from future development of some of the things we talked about,” Vice Chairwoman Cindy Freeman Cyr said, referring to structures such as a gazebo that have been previously mentioned as ideas.
Selectman Scott Taylor asked about mowing costs, and Clukey said portions of the property, such as the consolidation areas, could only have to be mowed several times per year. Board member Jane Conroy asked about a formal name for the land, and Clukey said he has always referred to it as “Browns Mill,” but the selectmen could look at a new name in the future.
“I’m hoping this will result in getting some excitement from people — it’s just gorgeous,” board member Gail D’Agostino said.
Another ongoing project in town, located just up the Piscataquis River, is the Riverfront Redevelopment at the former Moosehead site. Clukey said the existing zoning for the area is for manufacturing and not residential, which needs to be addressed as the redevelopment is for mixed use, including apartments.
Code Enforcement Officer Connie Sands “has worked with DEP to come up with language that recognizes that process,” Clukey said, referring to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “It will be discussed at the planning board meeting next week and we will hold a public hearing and it will go out for a vote.”
The planning board is scheduled to examine the needed amendment to the Land Use Ordinance at its meeting on Thursday, Oct. 4. The selectmen voted to hold a public hearing on the matter at their meeting on Monday, Oct. 22.
Sands said this should be the last amendment needed to the Land Use Ordinance for the Riverfront Redevelopment project.
Clukey reported that officials with the Pine Crest Business park, which currently owns the site, have contracted the remediation of hazardous building materials with Enviro Vantage of New Hampshire, so that work can start shortly.
In other business, the selectmen accepted a public easement for a portion of Shore Road South. The easement is 638 feet in length and 30 feet wide, and each of the abutting property owners has provided a signed easement to the town.
“I think our intent was to maintain the status quo, which means we go in and plow what we used to plow,” Clukey said.
Clukey and Taylor both reported on a recent meeting of the recreation committee. They said participation numbers are strong for the fall sports programs offered through Foxcroft Academy.
Clukey said work was scheduled to be done on the baseball outfield at the fairgrounds “so it’s not going uphill from one side to the other.” He said improvements are currently being made to the SeDoMoCha Middle School playing fields, and as a result the school’s football team has needed the fairgrounds as practice space this fall.
Taylor said the skating rink at the fairgrounds is being readied for use during the coming winter.