OAKLAND — The Town Council has accepted a grant from the Maine Municipal Association for the Police Department and is looking at a potential trails project that could benefit the town economically.

The town received a $1,712 safety enhancement grant from the association to go toward ballistic vests for the police force, a gift the council voted unanimously to accept Wednesday night. Ballistic vests, also known as bulletproof vests, reduce the impact and penetration of bullets to the body.

The Maine Municipal Association offers safety grants to help reduce workplace injuries. Over this past grant period, it received 117 applicants for grants and awarded $152,883, according to a news release.

The association has provided more than $4.3 million through more than 3,800 scholarships and grants for safety since 1999.

Councilors on Wednesday also discussed a proposal to turn the railroad tracks in Oakland into a multi-use trail that would continue up to Embden.

The Land for Maine’s Future Program, part of the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, received a proposal for the Madison Branch Multi-Use Trail Project. This project would remove the railroad tracks to create a multi-use track that would begin in Oakland and pass through Fairfield, Norridgewock, Madison, Anson and Embden. It would be open for use by snowmobilers, runners and bikers.

The project also would include a parking lot in Oakland, according to Town Manager Gary Bowman.

According to a letter sent to Bowman by the program, the Land for Maine’s Future board will review the proposal and make its decision by Nov. 11. Before final funding is approved, the board would alert the public about the project and take public comments.

The councilors agreed that the project would provide an economic boost to Oakland and would be a beneficial recreational venue for area residents.

“I think the businesses in town are going to benefit from it,” Bowman said.

In other business, Bowman announced a new project from the Maine Municipal Association aimed at attracting a new workforce for municipalities.

“The biggest problem municipalities have right now is there are no new people coming into the profession,” he said.

The association is hoping to work with organizations and educational institutions to create professional development and training programs for positions such as code enforcement officer and town manager.

“There’s a shortage throughout the state. If you go on the MMA website, I think there’s 12 or 13 town manager positions open,” Bowman said. “That’s going to come to a critical mass at some point. It was encouraging to hear their staff talk about this, because they realize this is a problem.”

Bowman also announced that voters chose Oakland Waterfront Park as the new name for the park area along Belgrade Avenue and Messalonskee Lake, where the new town gazebo was installed.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour