Aidan Wilkins, 12, of Farmington dribbles a basketball at the Farmington Community Center in Farmington. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal file photo

FARMINGTON — Selectmen this week approved a gift of $100,000 from Judith Bjorn to the Parks and Recreation Department.

“Probably the best Monday morning phone call I ever received,” Recreation Director Matthew Foster said. “I didn’t really say much on the phone. It was quite a shock, but not really. The Bjorns have been extremely supportive of the department for a lot longer than I’ve been here.”

Former Director Steve Shible had a very good relationship with them, Foster noted.

“Use this $100,000 check to support your many programs for youth and families,” Foster read from Bjorn’s letter. “I’ve been a lifelong resident of Farmington and have a strong belief in providing healthy activities to our community. My wish is that you use my gift to enhance and continue your excellent programs.”

At Foster’s request, the money will be put in an escrow account while determining the best use of the money. He wants to meet with Town Manager Christian Waller and Bjorn to discuss her visions or thoughts, then talk about possibilities with the Recreation Committee.

“This is a lot of money that you don’t want to make knee-jerk reactions with,” Foster said. “I am a big fan of careful consideration and planning for the long- term benefit.”

Spending proposals would be brought before the board, he noted.

“The Bjorns have been great benefactors,” Selectman Stephan Bunker said. “I can think back to several projects.”

“They’ve assisted with the floor, the grandstand seating, helped with the curtains, lighting, different things at the Community Center,” Foster said. “They built us a new park in town.”

“It shows how much (the Bjorns) care about the community, they value the community and what we do,” Foster said. “I think not only the Rec Department, but selectmen, taxpayers, everyone are really thankful for their generosity.”

In other business, the board Tuesday requested more information on a Maine Department of Transportation proposal to restripe Route 2, known as the Wilton Road. The idea is to create a single driving lane in each direction with a middle turn lane in each direction.

With the significant change and past history, Waller wanted the board’s input. The state highway department needs to know by January, he noted.

“We have heard some previous citizen input on the topic, having a turning lane, single lanes in either direction,” Bunker said. “I’m not sure that attitude has changed.”

“Something needs to be done,” Selectman Scott Landry said. “I’m not sure that’s the answer at this time. I certainly wouldn’t want to be painting the roads now and covering it with snow and slop, expect people to know what’s going on.”

Other options such as roundabouts may provide time and safety enhancements without changing the current system, Waller said. The study for the current proposal suggests 20 seconds would be added when traveling from Hannaford to the Wilton town line, he noted. The MDOT representatives could be asked to attend a board meeting, he said.

“I would like to see it on paper before I go too far with it,” Landry said.

“I’m open to more information,” Bunker said. “The original proposal was not well received, there were concerns. I am sure I am not alone in being concerned about traffic trying to turn left across traffic. It is a real danger issue.”

A copy of the updated plan, which Waller has, will be brought to the next discussion.

The section of roadway from the former Labonville to where Farmington Ford was stood out in discussions Selectman Michael Fogg had with people, when changes were previously proposed.

That area, plus just past the hospital, are points of concern for 18-wheelers trying to get up to speed, he noted.

“MDOT is aware of the issue, has a plan in place to have a truck lane where it would be safe to combine and not be on a hill,” Waller said.

“Did they talk much about pedestrian safety, having wider breakdown lanes on each side of traffic?” Foster asked. “There’s always people walking.”

It wasn’t part of the discussion but could be addressed, Waller said.

“It is a concern, there’s no sidewalk,” Bunker said.

“We need to take a look at the whole thing,” Landry said.

No date was set for future discussion.

Interested citizens should attend or plan to watch the meeting, livestreamed by Mt. Blue Community Access TV, Bunker noted.


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