MANCHESTER — In a straw poll Thursday at the Town Meeting, residents indicated they’d like a chance to go to the beach.

They were asked whether they’d be interested in the town trying to strike a deal with the Augusta Country Club to allow residents to use the club’s now-private beach on Cobbossee Lake.

The results were counted up Friday, with 26 voting yes and six voting no.

Selectman Martha Nielsen said there has been discussion for many years about seeking access to a swimming spot on the lake for residents, and that is also a goal expressed in the comprehensive plan.

“Over the years, there have been various efforts to get public access to Cobbossee Lake,” she said. “When I moved here, 21 years ago, there had just been a committee to look for land” for a town beach.

However, none of those efforts have resulted in the creation of a public swimming spot on the large lake for Manchester residents.

In recent discussions with town officials, Nielsen said, the club offered to let residents use the beach starting July 1 for $20,000 a year, also requiring the town to hire an attendant at a cost of $10,000 a season, with some Saturdays reserved by the club for special events.

“That seemed exorbitant to some of us, so rather than put a large amount of money on the warrant, we decided (to do a straw poll) and get a sense of whether people are interested in this,” Nielsen said during the meeting. “If there is interest, maybe we can talk to the country club and perhaps get a different deal.”

Residents also were asked to indicate whether they were interested in serving on a committee to work on providing residents access to the lake. Town Clerk Tina Cagle said Friday four indicated they would: Fran Davis, Pat LeVeen, Jeff Reardon and Scott Clark.

The poll responses also included one comment, Cagle said, which was: “I don’t want my taxes any higher.”

The Manchester Comprehensive Plan, revised in 2012, indicates the only beach areas in town are the private country club’s and the Cobbossee Yacht Club’s, which are both available only to members of those clubs.

“There are also limited swimming opportunities for residents,” the plan notes. “Opportunities are either privately owned or outside of the town.”

The plan’s “implementation strategies” include “continue to investigate the feasibility and look for opportunities to establish ownership or access to a beach facility on Cobbosseeconte Lake for town residents.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj