October 12, 2014

Gray Town Council presents to a standing room only crowd - By Tracy Scheckel

The Gray Town Council met on Tuesday with five presentations and no action items on its agenda. First up was MSAD 15 Superintendent Bruce Beasley to share information about the two November referendum questions that The Eagle has previously reported on. One new piece of information that came to light that may help explain the perceived disparity in the proportion of academic and athletic proposed expenditures, was prompted by a question from council chair Matthew Sturgis regarding previous district capital projects. Beasley reported that for the past 20 years at least, there have been virtually no taxpayer funds spent to upgrade outdoor athletic facilities. Two more informational public forums are scheduled and all the information is available on the MSAD 15 website.

Anne Gass and Rick Licht of the Community Economic Development Committee (CEDC) asked the council for some direction of the committee’s desire to explore village traffic and pedestrian improvements at the Brown Street and Yarmouth Road intersection and at Durgin Corner, noting that there may be Community Development Block Grant opportunities available for certain improvements. The Council agreed that the CEDC should continue with the initiative and report back.

Anne Gass also represented the Bike-Ped committee to request permission to seek grant funding of $35,000 from the Regional Trails Program (RTP). The Bike-Ped committee is a subcommittee of the Gray Recreation and Conservation Committee and has worked to propose a pedestrian path that navigates Gray Village connecting all of the area assets. Gass explained that the grant would require a 20 percent match ($8,700) which could be either in cash or in-kind services. She also reported that the committee has been in discussion with any private property owners who might consider providing easements that would enhance the proposed trail which has been dubbed “the Village Area Loop Trail” (VALT). The Council agreed that the committee should pursue the grant.

The Council heard from several residents of Gore Road near Little Sebago. Gore begins in Gray as a public road then for .116 miles at the Raymond border it becomes private. In Raymond the situation is similar with a private portion at the Gray border. The private portion in Gray has six residences on it and is in very poor repair making it difficult for travel and particularly emergency and school vehicles. 
According to Town Attorney Bill Dale, by law, because it’s private, the town cannot expend public money for improvements or upgrades, except to provide winter plowing in the interest of public safety to maintain emergency access. In order for the town to be able to have legal right to further maintain the road, public easements must be agreed to by the property owners along the stretch of road. A lengthy discussion took place with many area residents offering opinions about what the town should be doing. According to Sturgis, “The bottom line is to procure the public easements from the residents in order for the town to have the right to do anything more than plowing.” At the meeting, Town Manager Deborah Cabana reported that all six homeowners had been contacted, four have either signed or agreed to the easement, and two have yet to do so. 

Finally a proposal by TZ Properties, LLC of Falmouth for a contract zone to allow 12 condominiums, one a 13-acre parcel off Whitney Road was not well received. The proposed site is in the Rural Residential and Agricultural Zone (RRA) and requires a minimum of two acres per dwelling. In a conversation after the meeting, Sturgis explained that the two previous contract zone requests, one for Advance Realty in Gray Center and one pending to Britton Lumber would ultimately increase economic development, where the proposal brought forth at the meeting did not demonstrate any benefit to the town. The Council meets next on October 21.

Photo Caption: Courtesy of Bike-Ped Committee “Proposed Gray Village Area Loop Trail (VALT)”

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