Donated Funds For Improvements Double to $100,000 as Clock Ticks On
BAR HARBOR—A design for the reconstruction of the Glen Mary wading pool and adjoining areas has not been approved yet. The questions of how big a wading pool might be and if a splash pad might also be built are still up in the air. However, the funds to do the work have doubled thanks to a matching $50,000 donation to the Bar Harbor Village Association’s November $50,000 donation for the work.
There might also be another anonymous donor willing to help, Bar Harbor Village Association Secretary Kim Swan told the three members of the Parks and Recreation Committee able to attend its meeting on Monday afternoon. Two members (Jeff Dobbs and Desiree Sirois) had excused absences.
That other anonymous donor, Swan said, had been willing to fund the entire project if it had occurred last summer. However, the project has been held up because of a lease agreement between the town of Bar Harbor and the Bar Harbor Village Association (VIA), which owns the property.
“We want to just get this going. We hope that the $100,000 gives it a little kick,” Swan said.
Public Works Director Bethany Leavitt said that the town still has money in this year’s budget to do improvements and that there is money allocated for the FY 2024 budget, which has not been approved yet and will not be approved or rejected until June via the town’s voters
The wading pool at Glen Mary Park (located on 7.5 acres off Glen Mary Road and Waldron Road) has been closed all summer and this spring due to broken piping . In July town officials had announced that it would probably be closed in 2023 as well. That closure currently includes winter skating. At a July Parks and Recreation Meeting on the site, residents expressed their concerns about both the lack of a place for young families to socialize as well as a safe place for so many kids to learn how to swim, stating personal anecdotes of how they learned to swim there or how their children or grandchildren did as well.
The VIA has been leasing the pool and surrounding woodland park to the town since 1995 and 2014 respectively. The lease for the pool expires in 2024, which makes it harder for the town to invest in the site, according to Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman John Kelly.
At the July meeting VIA Board Chair Richard Cough said the town has been leasing the space for years for $1 a year and that the town leases the wooded area as well so that the police department could respond to calls in the same way that it responds to all public park incidents. Prior to the town’s lease agreement, it was considered private property
That lease has still not been signed. Until that lease is signed, the town will not spend money on the site. However, the $100,000 that comes from the VIA and its matching donor could kick start the project, Swan said.
While the VIA funds at least part of the reconstruction project, the town would be in charge of the construction and approving the design. Sketch plans from Mike Rogers and Lark Studios have not been approved by the town. The Parks and Recreation Committee hopes that there will be a concept plan with a few alternatives for people to react to.
Leavitt said the plan might need to be in two parts or abbreviated if it is to be designed, improved and constructed for a wading pond’s June construction.
Parks and Recreation Chair John Kelly said he wanted a public forum to see what the community wants, and what age group should be targeted. The town could talk to a designer while this occurs. Swan agreed and said she was worried about the timing and that the area is important for the community.
Leavitt said it’s got to be a fast thing to have it open this year.
“But it’s got to be right, too,” Kelly said.
The VIA has also voted to spend $10,000 for an arborist and landscape design at the Glen Mary Woods.
All the plans would have to be approved by the town.
“The greater picture,” resident Ellen Grover said in July, “is keeping this park as an in-town place of joy. There are kids in this park all the time.” She gave a litany of uses from people stringing hammocks in trees during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic from daycares to College of the Atlantic students.
It’s a place where people take care of each other even creating poison ivy warning signs and twenty people volunteering to clean up last spring. Those volunteers collected 78 bags of debris and nine piles of wood. The area has been called a jewel of Bar Harbor.
“There is a need here,” Grover had said, “and people want to see it keep going on as it was.”
The people will have a chance to express their wants at the next committee meeting, scheduled for December 19, 4:30 p.m. at the Council Chambers in the Bar Harbor Municipal Building on Cottage Street. The meeting will focus on hearing the public’s thoughts and ideas about the potential redesign. It is scheduled for the first night of Hannukah. There will also be a dedicated email for the members of the public who want to express their opinion but can’t attend the meeting in person. That email is being created and wasn’t available at press time.
The Parks and Recreation Committee consists of five members: John Kelly, chair; Greg Veilleux, vice chair; Desiree Sirois, secretary; Bob Huff, YMCA representative, and Jeff Dobbs, who is also on the Bar Harbor Town Council.
Bar Harbor VIA board members are President Dick Cough, Vice President Andy Shea, Secretary Kim Swan, treasurer Jon Nicholson, Jeff Dobbs, David Witham, Erin Cough, Helene Harton, Tom Testa, and Steven Coston.
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