WINTHROP — Memorial Drive needs to be repaired.

Whether that means simply adding a second topcoat of pavement to the roadway — or a complete reconstruction requiring a bond item — won’t be known until the spring.

Public Works Foreman Matthew Burnham and Winthrop councilors assured residents at a meeting Monday night that the paving project was not completed.

“State Paving is willing to come in and fix any spots that are shot,” he said.

Burnham said the department ran short on luck when it was cleaning ditches and the excavator broke down, and it plans to continue that work in the spring. He said the town needs to wait until spring to get an idea of what the road needs.

A surveyor’s report, however, gives some indication; it studied a 2.55-mile stretch of Memorial Drive, from Knickerbocker Road to Bearce Road. The report, prepared by James E. Coffin, of E.S. Coffin Engineering & Surveying Inc., in July 2018, was shared with residents at Monday’s meeting.

“The majority of the road is in poor condition in regard to drainage with runoff from the road not being directed to the appropriate ditch,” Coffin wrote.

Rocks block off what used to be road access and is now a public pedestrian easement on Welches Point, which was a topic of discussion at Monday’s Town Council meeting. Personal property of neighboring land owners appears to be on the easement Tuesday morning. Some residents addressed a concern that they don’t know it’s public.

Memorial Drive resident Ryan Chamberland said he thinks the town waited too long to contract the work, and he asked it to look at the workflow of when the plans would be made. He also asked that the town run a grader over the road.

“We need to strike the midpoint of what we need and what we like,” said Winthrop Councilor Rita Moran, who said she was hesitant to have the improvement come at a cost to residents.

On Tuesday, public works employees were patching potholes on the street.

Also at Monday’s meeting, councilors discussed the Welches Point public pedestrian easement, hearing concerns from residents and brainstorming ideas about its management. John O’Connor told councilors that he and other Welches Point residents, not the town, have been maintaining the easement. His property abuts the easement, the former Fire Road 16, which starts near the East Winthrop Beach on Cobbossee Lake.

On his own property, O’Connor continuously finds beer bottles and rubbish, hears people at all hours outside his house and has even experienced trespassing.

“I have a picnic table, and people are using my picnic table,” O’Connor said.

Discussion on a public pedestrian easement on Welches Point was a topic of discussion at Monday’s Winthrop Town Council meeting. The easement begins at the East Winthrop Beach on Cobbossee Lake.

The shorefront formerly was managed by the East Winthrop Beach Association, a nonprofit that no longer exists. Some residents did not know that the easement was public, and others said it was not obvious that it was open to pedestrian traffic.

Councilor Andy Wess agreed the area wasn’t welcoming to pedestrians.

“My wife refuses to walk across there because she’s made uncomfortable by the occupancy of that area by abutting residents,” he said.

Residents were concerned their taxes could increase if they were given the property, while others worried — if the public continued to use the pedestrian easement — about who would pay for insurance and establish enforcement policies for users and neighboring property owners.

“I don’t want to relinquish control of the beach,” Councilor Linda Caprara said. “This is public land. It needs to be maintained as a beach.”

She suggested having the town manager recommend a course of action to secure the easement.

“Decades later, uses have changed, circumstances have changed,” council Chairwoman Sarah Fuller said. “We’re trying to determine what’s practical, given all of the stakeholders.”

In other business, volunteer Elizabeth Peters told the council that Gov. Janet Mills has accepted an invitation to opening day for the upcoming season of Concerts at Norcross Point. The season will run from July 7 to Aug. 25.

Abigail Austin — 621-5631
[email protected]
Twitter: @AbigailAustinKJ

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