Bridgton Recreation Director-Gary Colello- Awarded 2020 “Dr. Bill Eckart” Young Professional Award

The Maine Recreation and Parks Association announces that Gary Colello, Director of Recreation in Bridgton has been awarded the

2020 “Dr. Bill Eckart” Young Professional Award

Gary Colello is being recognized by his professional peers with an award by the Maine Recreation and Parks Association. He has demonstrated outstanding leadership for the residents of Bridgton by developing, coordinating and implementing recreational opportunities for all ages.  Gary has recently served on the MRPA Fall Workshop and the MRPA annual conference planning committees.

This award is named for Dr. William Eckart, who retired from the University of Maine at Machias in 2011 after 31 years as Professor of Recreation Management. During his tenure, he built the program into one of the most respected programs in the country, and it was Maine’s only nationally accredited recreation degree program. Dr. Eckart was an active member of MRPA, serving as Treasurer on the Board of Directors, spearheading the professional certification program, and managing membership.

Here is what residents of Bridgton say about Gary:

“Gary has taken a leadership role bringing together many towns in for baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, lacrosse and other sports.  He also helps with town events such as the Christmas parade, 4 on the 4th road race & the town Halloween party. He also interacts with the local elementary, middle & high school. His skill dealing with children, coaches, parents, officials and other town’s representatives is amazing. He does this with a smile and an undeniable belief that the bottom line is that this is all done for the benefits of the children.”

“He has gone well above and beyond the typical duties of a small town rec director.”

“Gary is single-handedly responsible for growing our community health and wellness activities at a previously under-utilized old town hall, revitalizing an attached public winter ice rink and providing skates and helmets to those who are interested. I cannot think of a community event where I have not seen him in attendance. This winter he mobilized every town business to decorate their windows for the holiday season, as the Parks Department was unable to put up the customary decorations due to road construction. I do not think this was even his responsibility. He also doggedly organized the previously failing “Festival of Lights” parade in the beginning of December.”

“Since Gary has come to Bridgton, he has done a lot for our recreation community. He is constantly challenging the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality while also collaborating with more experienced recreation directors to bring our community the best programming possible.”

Congratulations Gary!

Main Street improvement project set to begin in Bridgton

Main Street improvement project set to begin in Bridgton

BRIDGTON — Renovations to Bridgton’s streetscape will begin Tuesday with work being
done to the storm drain system.

Construction will “bounce around a little bit throughout the first weeks,” said Colin Dinsmore
of HEB Engineers, the project’s engineer.

“There’s little pockets where (underground utility work) is going to occur throughout the
whole project area,” he said.

Read the rest of the article HERE or download a copy HERE.

Junior Harmon Ball Field Re-Dedication Ceremony

Sunday July 14, 2019 4:45PM (or 15min before the U12 Championship Game)

Jr Harmon Ball Field is hosting the Maine State Babe Ruth Softball Championships this weekend, Friday July 12th – Sunday July 14th.  Before the U12 Championship game on Sunday, July 14th, there will be a re-dedication ceremony to recognize the completion of the Jr Harmon Ball Field renovations as well as recognize Jr Harmon for the all the years he spent on the field as a coach, and as the volunteer that prepped the field for the local baseball league for years.

Bridgton Recreation Department will present his family with the original “Jr Harmon Field” sign to keep as a memento to Junior.  One of Junior’s family members will throw out the first pitch before the 12 and Under championship game. This will take place, if there is no weather delays, at 4:45PM at Junior Harmon Ball Field.

We would like to invite all of you down to the Ball Field on Sunday to be a part of the ceremony, maybe watch a great championship game, eat a burger and some fries from the newly renovated snack shack, and check out all the updates at the Ball Field. The Bridgton News plans to attend and get great pictures of the event and the more people the better!!

A big thanks to Public Works, Jeff Frye, Eric Wisseman, Main Line Fencing, and everyone else for of the hours put into this field all spring. Their flexibility, ability to work together, and attention to detail is why this project met its deadlines to be completed for this big league State Tournament weekend!!

Gary Colello
Bridgton Director of Recreation
Andy Valley Softball President

Joint Press Release – Salmon Point Road Settlement Agreement

The Town of Bridgton and the residents of Salmon Point Road are pleased to announce that they have reached a solution to resolve the pending litigation at Salmon Point Road.

The Town of Bridgton has constructed a public footpath parallel to the private portion of Salmon Point Road, physically separated from the private way by a split-rail fence, that will offer safe access to the public beaches at Salmon Point from the available public parking. In conjunction with the recently finished public parking lot, the footpath is part of the Town of Bridgton’s ongoing commitment to improving access to public resources and protecting the historic use and rights of local residents as more people discover the allure and natural beauty of Bridgton’s beaches and lakes.

As shown below, the path extends from the public parking lot adjacent to Salmon Point Campground to the public beaches at Salmon Point and will be maintained by the Town of Bridgton for this purpose. Further, signage will be posted directing visitors to use the footpath. As a result, both residents and visitors at Salmon Point will continue to enjoy access to the beauty of Salmon Point and Long Lake as we head into the summer season.

The Town has completed the gravel path so that visitors can safely access the public beaches and Salmon Point. In addition, new signage will be erected by the Town of Bridgton identifying the private portion of Salmon Point Road as a Private Way. While the two pre-existing handicapped spaces at Salmon Point will be maintained, the use of the private portion of Salmon Point Road will be limited to licensed or placarded handicap vehicles.

In a joint statement, both the residents of Salmon Point Road and the Town of Bridgton stated that “the agreement strikes a well-measured balance between providing access to the public facilities at Salmon Point while preserving the historic use of Salmon Point Road by local residents. We are happy to have been able to come up with an amicable solution that will increase the safety, accessibility and beauty of Bridgton’s public spaces for years to come.”

USDA Invests Over $46 million to Improve Wastewater Infrastructure for Three Maine Communities

USDA Rural Development State Director Timothy P. Hobbs said, “The investment of $46 million in three Maine wastewater systems will be of immense benefit to the communities who are served. These upgrades will modernize decades-old wastewater infrastructure, resulting in increased efficiencies, advancements in technology, and ensuring Maine’s environment is preserved for the people fortunate enough to call Maine home.”

Read the entire press release here:


USDA RD Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grant Program Project Announcement

USDA RD Project Announcement

This Rural Development investment will be used to rehabilitate the Town of Bridgton, Maine’s wastewater treatment system. The proposed project is to construct a new wastewater treatment facility, upgrade some aging sewer collection infrastructure, and to expand the system which will enable additional users in the greater downtown area to have access to public wastewater services. The expansion portion of the project is expected to add 448 new users, increasing the total number of users on the system from 207 to 655. The proposed project will focus on the wastewater system/facility as it is in need of immediate upgrades.

Some of the plant’s original equipment and processes are upwards of thirty-five years old, and the overall facility is well beyond the twenty-year useful life for which it was originally designed. The plant is now at an age where it has a greater chance of equipment failure and it has incurred increased maintenance needs. Several key unit processes at the plant are inefficient, inadequate, or obsolete. The rehabilitation improvements address the aging infrastructure and capacity issues in the project area, as well as restore the design capacity of the facility at a reasonable cost. The proposed upgrades, which are long overdue, will help the system operate more effectively and efficiently, as well as address the Maine Department of Environmental Protection health and sanitary concerns. The upgrades included in this project represent the highest priorities identified in the Town’s Strategic Plan and will have the greatest benefit to the distribution system. The proposed project is in an Agency identified target area. Rural Development staff have been working within the City over the past few years to extend our services and programs to help the City enhance its mission. The proposed project will not only correct the system’s current operating deficiencies, but also help the City improve their economic development opportunities.

The proposed project is a collaborative effort with funding provided by the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the Town of Bridgton, and Rural Development. By working together all organizations are able to enhance their selection criteria and make their limited resources go further.


Other Funding:
$2,000,000 Clean Water State Revolving Fund
$443,000 Town of Bridgton

Total Project Cost: $20,880,000

Loan Term: 28 years @ 2.375%

Other Funding: Other: $2,443,000.00
Total Project Cost: $22,880,000.00


Bridgton’s rebranding campaign puts it on the map with young home buyers

So does branding really work?

Well, the town of Bridgton, ME, about 40 miles from the city of Portland, came up with the warm and fuzzy tagline “Love Always, Bridgton,” after working with PR firm Black Fly Media. The town of roughly 5,000 has an aging population, about half of them 45 or older, and about one-third of all homes are seasonal or second homes. Town leaders wanted to attract more year-round young families to keep the town vital.

A series of in-depth interviews with residents, business people, and town officials revealed that the town’s most cherished assets were its lakes, streams, and ski area, Shawnee Peak, and its affordability relative to Portland, says Black Fly Media’s Nelson.

“The most predominant thing that kept coming up is that people loved the town, for different reasons,” Nelson says.

Read the whole article here:



Bridgton Awarded $11.5M in grants to Complete Three Critical Infrastructure Improvements

BRIDGTON, MAINE — October 1, 2018 —  The Town of Bridgton has been awarded significant funding to offset the costs for three major infrastructure improvements needed in town. The first is a replacement of the aging wastewater system, which has been failing since 2014. The other two projects include restoration and repair of two sections of Main Street. Municipal leaders applied for grants and loans from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Rural Development, United States Development of Agriculture (USDA) and have successfully reduced overall burden to taxpayers with a grant award for $11M for the wastewater project. The Maine Department of Transportation awarded the town $500,000 for the Main Street project.

“We’ve known for some time that the wastewater system is in critical need of replacement and we are very relieved to get this large grant,” says Bob Peabody, Bridgton Town Manager. Recent tests show that private systems are contaminating parts of Stevens Brook – threatening water quality and public safety. The Town’s system needs significant repairs and the DEP says it’s at risk for license violations. Peabody is concerned that if voters don’t approve Question 1 in November the Town will lose the federal funding and residents will end up footing the entire $22.8M price tag. The grant funding currently in place will cover 48-percent of this project’s total.

In 2017, The Town of Bridgton launched a marketing campaign to attract new businesses and year round residents to town, but has been forced to turn away several major retailers, restauranteurs and business because the failing wastewater system is operating at capacity.

“We have plans to develop a senior living campus in Bridgton but we cannot move forward unless the wastewater system is improved,” said Lon Walters, owner of Woodlands Senior Living, a Waterville-based senior and assisted living provider.” Walters says the communities to be built would serve 136 residents and create up to 80 new, permanent jobs in Bridgton.

Two other questions on Bridgton’s November ballot have also received significant state grant money. Two Main Street projects that will improve drainage systems and lighting, implement traffic calming measures, restore crumbling, legally non-compliant sidewalks on both Lower and Upper Main Street have received $500,000 from the Maine Department of Transportation. The improvements are dually aimed at improving safety and accessibility, while stimulating aesthetics to improve economic development. A petition supporting the projects circulated Main Street businesses and garnered several dozens of signatures.

For Deb Snyder, PhD, needed improvements on lower Main Street are a safety concern, adding that “it’s challenging and sometimes dangerous” for her wheelchair-bound daughter to get around on lower Main Street. Snyder, founding director of the HeartGlow Center, a special needs non-profit on Lower Main says the road and sidewalks have been neglected for years and repairs need to be done. “Storm drains are crumbling, potholes are problematic and the walk signals are too short to make it across Route 302 fast enough.”

The town put all three questions on the ballot in hopes that voters will approval all three together. Project engineers say simultaneous construction will create efficiencies that save money in labor and paving costs, and will minimize construction disruptions. Voters will decide each question individually.

To complete all three projects, the cost per household will be less than $100 dollars per year on a home valued at $150,000, according to Bridgton’s Assessor’s Agent. The cost breakdown, per $150k of value is $53 for Question 1; $31 for Question 2 (Upper Main) and $14 for Question 3 (Lower Main).

“The stars have aligned in Bridgton, as we have this impressive financial assistance package in place so for less than $100-dollars per year, residents will get more than $27M in capital improvements,” Peabody adds “the time is now for us to complete these long discussed projects.”

About Bridgton: Settled in 1770, Bridgton is now home to a 67-acre park right downtown, abundant water access, and regional destinations including Shawnee Peak, a handful of camping/RV sites, children’s camps, a drive-in theatre, a golf course, Bridgton Academy and Bridgton Hospital.

Press Inquiries: Diana Nelson, Black Fly Media, 978.985.9993

Striking a middle ground: Arborist to inventory, evaluate Pondicherry Park trees

Everyone wants Pondicherry Park to be a safe place to enjoy a walk or run while experiencing nature’s beauty.

Mary Jewett, Lakes Environmental Association’s teacher/naturalist, and Heather Rorer, Loon Echo Land Trust conservation outreach manager, also want to keep the intown forest in a natural state.

So, finding a solution on how to address several hazardous trees along pathways, as well as off the beaten trails, was the question posed at a joint workshop last Wednesday.

Selectmen hosted the session, which included Pondicherry Park Stewardship Committee members (attending were Richard Bennett, Brian Cushing, Dan Edwards, Allen Erler and Jewett), foresters Shane Dugan and Jack Wadsworth and Loon Echo’s Heather Rorer.

To read the entire article:

Nature vs. logging? Safety concerns arise regarding hazardous trees in Pondicherry Park

Taking a casual or brisk walk through Pondicherry Park can be mind-clearing and invigorating.

The stillness of the forest is broken by a squirrel dashing through leaves and up a tree or water splashing as a beaver works on the bank of Stevens Brook.

The crackling of a rotted tree branch and its landing on the leaf-covered forest floor, however, is a concerning sound to Bridgton selectmen.

Hazardous trees, particularly those near park trails, pose a safety problem leaving a few selectmen “losing sleep at night.” While there is no disagreement that public safety is paramount, there is a differing in opinion as to how to address the issue at the 65-acre intown park.

Read the entire article here:

Stroll through Pondicherry Park for all?

Pondicherry Park is projected to draw 32,488 visits this year.

Yet, not everyone can enjoy a stroll through the intown 66-acre park because of their lack of full mobility — either due to being confined to a wheelchair or needing to use crutches.

Tom Perkins wants to create access for all.

Perkins, who is executive director of Loon Echo Land Trust, approached Bridgton selectmen Tuesday night regarding a proposal to upgrade 4,800 feet of forested trail, running alongside Stevens and Mill Brooks, enabling those with mobility issues a chance to enjoy the park.

Read the entire article here:

Pondicherry Park: a dream come true

The excitement built as around 50 people — and a half dozen or so dogs — gathered on the Bob Dunning Memorial Bridge Tuesday, awaiting the ribbon-cutting to dedicate the official gifting of Pondicherry Park to the people of Bridgton.

Smiles were everywhere, and the speeches preceding the ribbon-cutting reflected a sense that Bridgton had accomplished something pretty special by creating a 66-acre nature park with guided trails smack dab in the middle of downtown.

The legal closing on the 66-acre park transfer occurred Wednesday, June 27, at 2 p.m. at the Bridgton Municipal Complex, when the property deed was granted from LELT to the town, and the conservation easement was reserved.

Six trails have been created within the 66-acre Pondicherry Park – the half-mile Snowshoe Hare trail loop is the only one that allows pets on leashes. The dog-walking trail can be accessed by trailheads at the Bob Dunning Memorial Bridge or across from Bridgton Hospital on South High Street.

To read the entire article:

Pondicherry Park management plan finalized

Pondicherry Park, the 66-acre natural jewel of downtown Bridgton, will become an official town park — complete with a dog loop trail — next Tuesday, if Bridgton selectmen agree to accept three documents governing the park’s ownership, management and stewardship.

The three documents were the result of carefully-crafted negotiations begun last fall between Loon Echo Land Trust, Lakes Environmental Association and the town, represented by Selectmen Bernie King, Doug Taft and Woody Woodward, with Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz serving as moderator. The negotiations were part of a condition under which voters agreed last November to take over ownership of the park, made possible by over $700,000 in donations from 710 donors through the purchase of separate parcels over six years.

To read the entire article:

Pondicherry Park concerns addressed

Last week, Bridgton selectmen Doug Taft and Earl Cash announced that they had received “some feedback” regarding the public’s concern about the cost of the town taking over Pondicherry Park.

Voters will likely be asked in November to approve the town taking over ownership of the 65-acre park that has trail systems and is home to the Bob Dunning Memorial Bridge.

The Pondicherry Park project has been overseen since 2006 and up to this point, by Loon Echo Land Trust, Lakes Environmental Association, as well as a volunteer Stewardship Committee.

To read the entire article:

Dunning Bridge dedication

The Bob Dunning Memorial Bridge – the gateway to Pondicherry Park in Bridgton – is dedicated to a well-known craftsman who restored and enhanced many of the historic homes in the Lake Region.  Bob died of a heart attack on Nov. 23, 2007 at the age of 57. History was a fascination. Bob founded the Bridgton Historical Society’s annual Woodworkers’ Show and was vice president of the Rufus Porter Museum. He gave selflessly to his community as a volunteer firefighter, teacher and writer. At his memorial service, Bob was remembered for his kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity.  Read the entire Bridgton News article here: