Brooklin rejects Safe Route to School grant

BROOKLIN — Voters at a Dec. 16 special town meeting rejected a Safe Route to School grant that would have funded construction of sidewalks from the school entrance to the post office.

About 80 residents clustered in the Brooklin School library for the meeting because a basketball game was being held in the gym.

Selectman Deborah Brewster explained in a hearing before the meeting that the town had to vote on whether to accept a $160,000 grant from the Maine Department of Transportation.

“We expect to possibly match that ourselves and to maintain it,” Brewster said.

Brooklin School Board member Mike Sealander had explained the proposed project to the crowd and answered questions before the meeting.

“I’m excited about it because I think having kids downtown — they have somewhere to be walking other than in the street or in a swale,” Sealander said. He said parents will know that “when their kids are in the busy area they won’t be in the middle of the street.”

Residents who commented had a number of concerns including whether sidewalks are needed, a potential loss of parking spots at the Brooklin General Store, where snow would go as well as storm water runoff.

One resident said he only knows two students who walk to school. There are about 60 students in the school.

“You’re taking away the potential of four to five parking spaces at the store right off the bat,” resident Paul Gallo said.

Sealander replied, “Is there less place to park because there’s more sidewalk? The answer is yes.”

The proposed sidewalk would have started at the entrance to the school property, crossed the Bay Road, then crossed Naskeag Point Road to the store and then on to the post office.

Road Commissioner Neal Allen had concerns that the sidewalk would cause more people to park along the library side of the road, which gets congested.

One woman asked if anyone on the sidewalk committee is a Brooklin native.

“What’s that got to do with it?” another resident asked.

In other business, residents voted to allow Brooklin to enter into easements on town-owned land with Blue Hill Heritage Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust for parking at the Hundred Acre Wood Trail and the Harriman Point Preserve.

However, a few residents asked why the town wasn’t trying to sell portions of town-owned land to the trusts.

In the case of the Hundred Acre Wood Trail, resident Jon Hopkins said creating an easement on a 1,000-square-foot portion would not affect a future sale of the 1.1-acre lot. However, selling that 1,000-square-foot piece might reduce the lot size to less than Brooklin requires for a building.

Someone else asked about the value of a building lot in Brooklin today.

Real estate agent and resident Mike Roy replied that unimproved building lots are selling for $15,000 to $20,000.

In the case of the Harriman Point Preserve, the town owns 14 acres of land. The land trust seeks an easement on that parcel of about a quarter of an acre, according to Ciona Ulbrich, senior project manager for Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

One resident asked if the town is certain it owns the Harriman Point Road parcel.

“We don’t know for sure what the property lines are and we’re investigating that,” Brewster said.

Brewster said neither easement article results in any cost to the town.

Correction: An earlier version of this article contained an error. Mike Sealander should have been identified as a Brooklin School Board member.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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