Parks and Recreation Committee enthusiastically approves project, talks about Hadley Point boat launch, potential dog park, and Glen Mary Wading Pool
BAR HARBOR—A local man is giving approximately $25,000 to help the town and Acadia Youth Sports upgrade the ballfields on Park Street in three major ways.
At the Parks and Recreation Committee’s September 19 meeting in Council Chambers at the Bar Harbor Municipal Building, Andrew Shea, representing Acadian Youth Sports, told the committee that Stephen Coston planned to give approximately $25,000 to the organization to upgrade the area. The project includes irrigating the fields. Acadian Youth Sports would do the infrastructure but the maintenance and water costs would come from the town. The town would also be responsible for watering the fields. The committee unanimously approved the general concept with final approval being dependent on details worked out between Acadian Youth Sports and Public Works Director Bethany Leavitt.
“We were approached,” Shea said. “We had nice compliments on the field. Stephen Coston and his dad, that area down there is a big deal for their family. He’s wanted to do something and provided AYS with some funds.”
Coston told The Bar Harbor Story, “My dad has been playing basketball for about six decades now. He’s 67 years old and he still plays regularly. I played basketball with my dad from when I was a tiny kid until I was in my late twenties. My brother still plays basketball, and they still play together. One story I have always found funny about my dad and basketball is that even though I am very much right-handed, anyone who ever played basketball with me would tell you I was a better ball handler and finisher with my left hand. That’s because when I was a little kid my dad made a point of forcing me to develop all the fundamental skills with my left hand by refusing to let me go to the right and score. There was a little plastic hoop in his basement and he’d block all my right-handed layups but let me score the left-handed ones. To his credit, he would always let me win–until I got older, then I had to beat him fair and square. I have no idea how many games we’ve played at the ballfield but I’m sure it’s hundreds if not thousands.”
Greg Veilleux said that when he went to high school at John Bapst and played baseball, he remembered coming to MDI and being wowed.
“I stood on the diamond of a beautiful field and it made me feel like a real baseball player,” Veilleux said.
That sort of experience is part of why Coston is making the donation.
“I think one thing that makes Bar Harbor extremely special for those of us who live here or visit here is that Bar Harbor has a variety of exceptional amenities, like the ballfield, that other small towns such as Bar Harbor oftentimes do not have. That is something I have always appreciated about our town and it is something I am very happy to contribute to,” he said.
The ballfields are one of those assets and were originally given to the town to promote outdoor recreation.
“I never made the cut to play on any high school sports team, but I loved sports, particularly basketball, so public facilities like the ballpark where anyone can play were very important to me. In addition to a whole lot of basketball, I also played little league baseball at the ballfields. I am friends with many people here in town whose children play basketball, soccer, and baseball at the ballfields. I don’t play basketball anymore but my dad and my brother still do, oftentimes at the basketball court at the ballfields. For these and many more reasons I think the ballfields are a tremendous asset to the Town and I am happy to contribute,” he said.
The Acadian Youth Sports has been focused on upgrading the town-owned fields that are used by the nonprofit as well as the YMCA, hosts the Bar Harbor MDI Rotary Club’s seafood festival and annual Corvette rallies as well as informal and formal softball, Frisbee, and soccer games.
Acadian Youth Sports governs the Acadian Football League (AFL), Acadian Little League (ALL), and the Acadian Basketball Association (ABA). Its mission is “We want the Youth of MDI and Trenton to enjoy competitive sports, while being taught how to safely participate.”
“Your commitment to ballfields, Andy, it’s just unsurpassed. It’s just the matter of moving through the minutiae,” Veilleux said of the plan.
The minutiae includes Shea coming back with a formalized plan and solidifying a time to do the irrigation work with Public Works Director Bethany Leavitt. They will have to coordinate details about where the water should come from, where the controls would be, and details about the other two pieces of the project.
Those funds, Shea said, will also help create attractive three-sided fencing around the basketball court. The side that would not be fenced would be facing the snack shack. He predicted that with town approval the fencing would be three to four feet tall and possibly black wrought iron “to keep balls in and out and a decorative separation from the rest of the field.” There are no firm details yet about how far the fences would be set back from the courts.
Another upgrade would be finishing the landscaping in the snack shack area and getting rid of the crushed stone there that often comes into the parking lot.
The committee was enthusiastic about the irrigation. Shea told committee members that the fields begin to dry in the middle of June and sometimes before events, he’s up watering them at 10 p.m., 2 a.m., and 4 a.m. to keep them from drying out.
“I know of no Little League field that has irrigation. It would be nice not just for Little League. It would be good for all use,” Shea said.
“It’s really nice when local people step up for local youth,” Veilleux said, smiling.
Hadley Point Landing and Boat Launch Condition
The committee quickly discussed the condition of the Hadley Point landing and boat launch, which was put on the agenda after Town Councilor Jeff Dobbs heard someone complain about it during an Appointments Committee interview. They had said the landing was unusable. When the director of public works went there to investigate, the launch was being used. She said there is some rebar showing, but future investments for upkeep were probably a couple years out. She suggested that during the next budget process, the committee checks that there is a capital improvement line in the town’s budget for the location.
Glen Mary Pool
Leavitt also said the Glen Mary sprinkler system will be decommissioned for the year. She was unaware if it had been used. Dobbs said that the Village Improvement Association is working on the lease and a memorandum of understanding with the town about the site. The pool was shut down this year due to infrastructure issues. The land is actually owned by the nonprofit Village Improvement Association and leased to the town for recreational use.
DOG PARK AND LIFEFLIGHT HELI-PAD
The committee is also waiting for a plan from private citizens to create a dog park that would potentially also be located at the town ballfield area on Park Street.
“The plan has to be appropriate and almost ready for it to be built and for us to look at it and then sent to the council,” Dobbs said.
Similarly Fire Chief Matt Bartlett has reached out to find out about funding for a potential new helicopter pad for LifeFlight of Maine, a helicopter-ambulance service that also frequently uses the same athletic fields, but can’t land on the fields during winter months. The service has used the ferry terminal as well as MDI High School, but the field’s proximity to both the fire department as well as MDI Hospital makes it a preferred location. There have been talks about a helicopter pad’s creation since at least 2020.
PARKING LOT BY CROMWELL BROOK
At the meeting, Leavitt gave a quick update about the parking area by the ballfield that was being used for overnight and multiple night stays by campers and RVs.
“We pulled everything back to contain the parking. We put no overnight parking signs at the entrance and filled in some of the rutted areas,” she said.
An abutter to the area has complained to the Bar Harbor Town Council about illegal overnight parking, fighting, and camping in the area.
Veilleux said, “I drove by and I saw orderly parking and it was refreshing.”
The next meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee will be on October 17 at Council Chambers in the Municipal Building on Cottage Street. It begins at 4:30 p.m.
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MORE RESOURCES BECAUSE LEARNING IS GOOD!
More information on the Acadian Youth Sports is available on Facebook.
Trying to Save a Bar Harbor Gem – The Story of the Glen Mary Wading Pool