Selectboard discusses Walton Mill Pond Park project

5 mins read
Route 43 at Walton Mill Pond Park, where the construction project is located. (Photo by Annie Twitchell)

FARMINGTON — A concerned resident addressed the select board Tuesday night regarding the Walton Mill Pond Park Project.

Nancy Porter, who lives in the area of the park, said empathetically that there will be accidents and crashes due to four parallel parking spaces being added on the side of Route 43 in front of the park. The curve in the road at the park driveway is blind from Temple, Porter said, and with vehicles in the parking spaces it would be blind from both directions.

Porter reported ‘countless’ speeding vehicles and incidents on that corner over the years she’s lived there and asked if the board could do anything about the parking spaces.

The select board has limited options regarding the project, which was approved by a majority vote at a town meeting.

Selectman Joshua Bell said that he understands Porter’s concerns; he lives beyond that corner and drives it every day. The posted speed is 35 miles per hour at that point on the road, and he stated that the parking spaces will not be in the roadway, but set to the side of the road.

Police Chief Ken Charles also spoke, saying that it’s an issue of voluntary compliance; the road is engineered in such a way that a speed of 35 miles per hour is considered reasonable. The issue arises when people exceed that speed limit or drive in a manner inappropriate for the road conditions.

This is a problem they see all over Farmington, Charles indicated, but he will move that area of roadway to a higher priority for patrols and traffic enforcement.

People need to slow down and pay attention, Charles said. When they don’t, that’s when these issues occur.
The speed limits on that road are set by the state, not by the town. Bell said he wouldn’t have any issue with the speed
being lowered, but it’s not up to the select board.

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Foster said that the driveway into the park itself will be raised in elevation to allow better visibility. He added that people have historically parked on the shoulder of the road and that the addition of formal parking spaces should be an improvement over what it has been.

Porter asked if there was a noise ordinance for the Walton Mill Pond Park, specifically.

Town officials present at the meeting indicated that there are no noise ordinances for specific areas within the town; there is a general nuisance noise ordinance across the town as a whole.

Foster said in the 11 years he has worked for the town, they’ve had one noise compliant from the parks – that was from
Hippach Field. Charles said that the police department doesn’t have problems with the parks in that regard.

Porter stated other concerns, such as foot traffic along Route 43 to access the park; loss of kayaking or canoeing due to the dam removal; privacy of land owners along the stream; and invasive plants spreading in the park.

The possibility of a walking path had been discussed in the past and could be revisited. There will be access for kayaks and canoes, although they may not be able to go anywhere. The privacy situation isn’t anticipated to be much different than it has been in the past, and with regards to invasive species, the Atlantic Salmon Federation will be addressing those for several years, and the park will continue to be maintained by the Parks and Rec department.

Bell said that Porter was making assumptions on a lot of things.

Board Chair Matt Smith said he knew Porter put a lot of time and energy into it and thanked her for it.

In other business, the select board appointed Timothy D. Hardy as the new fire chief.

The board briefly discussed street lights and awareness of light pollution. Town Manager Christian Waller agreed to look into removing some street lights maintained by Central Maine Power in light of street lamps being added on some roadways.

Following the public meeting the board held executive sessions to discuss several land purchase opportunities and to review the Town Manager’s performance.

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