MINUTES

Scenic Byway Meeting March 6, 2003

Cherryfield Town Office

 

Present: Margery Brown, Deb Ballam, Charles Hitchings, Phil Harriman, Dick Fickett, Ellen Tenan, Peter Wass, Neil W. Tenan, George Openshaw, Ashby Bladen,

Andy Sprague, Charles Tenan, John Brace, Judy East (WCCOG), Lorna Thompson (PVCOG) and Jim Fisher (HCRPC).

                                                                                                                                               

A meeting to receive public input on the Route 182 Scenic Byway was held on Thursday March 6, 2003 at 6:00PM at the Cherryfield Town Office.

 

1.      Introductions (attendance contact information at end of this document).

 

2.      Goals Discussion – The 5 Broad Goals currently listed in the plan (and listed below) were discussed and input was sought from Cherryfield organizations and residents.

 

Goal 1: Maintain a safe and efficient transportation corridor connecting Cherryfield and Franklin.

 

George Openshaw (? Or was it Neil Tenan, it was the gentleman that left the meeting early) expressed that simply posting a 25mph speed limit would not work since traffic does not appear to heed the posted limit. The group spoke of putting in more corners and turns to slow the traffic down and to keep it tight. The use of traffic calming techniques to slow down traffic was also discussed.

 

It was felt that the use of shoulders for bike paths would also increase safety. Currently the hills are very steep for bicyclists and the shoulders are sand which make it dangerous and difficult for the bikes to use. The group expressed that bikes tend to avoid the road altogether particularly due to the steepness of Catherine’s Hill. Ashby Bladen indicated that is was very dangerous if not on a mountain bike and that the narrow and soft shoulders were even difficult for a mountain bike. Although it was felt that this was a good idea, the group also indicated that broader shoulders would also increase the traffic speed. It was noted that many bicyclists choose to use Route One. 

 

It was noted that one couldn’t lose site of the fact that it is a throughway. There is a lot of commercial traffic that appeared to increase when the “Singing Bridge” was closed and traffic was forced to find an alternate route.  Ellen Tenan indicated that once the bridge reopened, some truck traffic continued to use Route 182 because it is a shorter route.

 

How to accommodate it:  Signs could direct traffic toward Harrington on Route 1A from Milbridge (but there are still some difficult stretches along Route 1A)

 

Recreational Vehicles: A large problem with traffic on the road relates to large recreational vehicles and their difficulty navigating the winding road. Many times this slows down traffic. As the road exists currently, there is no location for them to pull off. This fact often creates a conflict between the local traffic and the tourism traffic.

 

Passing: Ellen Tenan also shared that people tend to get frustrated when following slow moving RVs or trucks and due to their frustration would pass in bad places.

 

Goal 2: Protect the natural, historic and scenic resources that make this byway unique.

 

The group felt that tourists can’t see because the trees have grown up and more trees have grown up since the designation. They encouraged the limbing of trees on the backside of Catherine’s Hill to create vistas. Also trim vegetation to create a look out off the top of Catherines Hill. Trimming could also be done on corners to create a better view. It appears that there is a fair amount of standing dead wood that could be cut to create a partial view. It was acknowledged that any trimming may also be detrimental, that forests depend on thick stands and trimming could cause blow downs. Turn-offs at various locations would also be beneficial. Local historian input about Catherine and dance hall indicates that it is all private property and a homicide occurred years ago on top of hill.

 

Non-point source pollution was mentioned by Ashby Bladen. He indicated that road runoff had the potential to create water quality problems. There are at least 10 places where erosion is carrying run off into the lakes. To protect the water quality, bank stabilization, resizing of culverts, replacement of failed culverts, and culvert repair is needed. Ashby Bladen will send the GPS coordinates to Jim.

 

Concern was voiced about the Historic Village in Cherryfield. If DOT re-builds without the plan, would be built to ASHTO standards; local plan would re-direct this planning; would identify priority sites for maintenance and/or improvement. The revitalization plan makes note of improvements as 182 comes into town (in comp plan).

 

Other historic areas of importance were mentioned. Ellen Tenan mentioned that all the cemeteries should be noted and not disturbed. Partners for the care of these locations should be sought and plaques should be placed at the locations for formal identification. The sign could also include an address that would accept donations for the care of the cememtery. The towns receive many inquiries relating tot he cemeteries from individuals involved in genealogy. Jim Fisher asked if there were working landscapes that were important tot he communities. The group listed five items as important. Those included: Blueberries, the gallamander, ice cutting and ice houses, the hatchery at the outlet of Tunk Lake and the Blacksmith Shop.

 

Goal 3: Promote the local economy through diversified economic activities, including forestry, farming, manufacturing, retail and tourism.

Signage: Interpretive signs that direct people from the byway into the villages would be beneficial to the economy of the towns. 

 

Improvement of Roads: Improving the road would create more efficient travel. These road improvements should promote easy maintenance. Currently frost heaves are extraordinarily bad and a number of bad pot holes exist. Improvement to 193 could divert the truck traffic away from 182 since 193 is already a faster route to Bangor or to Augusta.  But some commercial traffic will still need to go to Ellsworth and to Bar Harbor. The group concluded that the road needs to be fixed to a standard that can be managed by the town. Jim Fisher indicated that the state is responsible for the road and that upgrades are not currently in MDOT’s 6 year plan. However, being part of a scenic byway with a management plan that recommends redevelopment will bring the road higher up on MDOT’s priority list. The designation can also help to approve the aesthetics of the road such as dictating better looking guard rails.

 

The shoulders also need improvement in strategic locations to give a solid shoulder for trucks who move to the side for passing. Currently if a truck tries to pull to the side the narrow soft shoulders present the danger of becoming stuck. The shoulders would not need to be extended a long way to improve safety. Scenic pull outs with long paved shoulders (as on the Whales back on Route 9) could allow passing. This would be essential for farm trucks with fresh blueberries in transport and for the fish trucks that are often carry a very heavy load. Often times, these trucks stop at the top of a hill and tell drivers to pass them which is not the safest scenario. Particularly a truck lane on Catherine’s Hill would be beneficial, but the group wanted to protect the scenic old oak tree at that location. Problems with the hill included steepness, drainage and shaded area where melting does not occur. There is room to create a parking area at the top of the hill although currently it is private property.

 

Tunk Lake also has some areas for concern. No warning exists for the turnout  and the turnout is not sufficient to accommodate RVs. This area also may not work for a boat launch since space is limited. If the boat launch is improved, the flow to Tunk Stream (to the north) will be restored.  The shoulders should be widened to allow vehicles with boats and trailers to get up to speed.

 

Spring River parking was also mentioned as having limited room for expansion. Another potential area for a turn-off included the hand launch location at Fox Pond. A  rope swing exists at the east end where people turn off (the hand launch for canoes). Trailers are also used to launch boats at this location which creates a safety issue.

 

Tourism: Ellen Tenan indicated that many tourists are frightened of driving portions of the byway especially the end of Long Pond where it is difficult to see. Consensus was that the road should be made to be more user friendly and that the boat launch needs to be improved. Currently it is difficult for traffic to merge in this area and greater visibility is needed. One sugggestion was to move the road closure to the pond. A large pot hole at end of Long Pond needs to be fixed.

 

Often times tourists miss Cherryfield if they are not on Route 182. Signage is needed on Route One (both ends) for Cherryfield as a destination. This may be contrary to the mission of the Route 1 Corridor Committee. They are encouraging traffic towards Route One.  The committee discussed the potential for re-designating 182 as Route One and a portion of the current Route One would be changed to 1A. A re-build of 182 would be required to make it the main corridor. Problems with this plan might be that the north side of the road is an ecological preserve which could create a conflict with wildlife. Various wildlife such as wood ducks and turtles nest there. The State has been discussing the development of campgrounds. The group thought that more opportunities for hiking, biking canoeing, and camping (basically the use of the corridor without the automobile) would cause less damage to environment but does not bring in at lot of money for the economy.

 

Discussion then moved to the rails to trails initiative. The potential for a bike trail on old railroad tracks. Currently there is no economic benefit to the communities from rails that are not in use. Various people felt that the dual use (ATV’s and snowmobiles) of such trails would bring in more economic benefit than just bikes or just summer use only (multi trails, for year round use). The possibility of designating some areas that are single use and others as dual use was also discussed. Previously, the State has shot down offers to open the track for excursion tourism traffic from Franklin to Cherryfield. Rails are not currently at a grade that could support freight and it could cause environmental damage to upgrade.

 

Deb Ballam indicated that another option for the bike/hike trails could be a bridle path. The potential for eco tourism was discussed with a focus on motorized verse non-motorized usage.

 

With the overflow that is being experienced from Acadia National Park, the group wondered if more traffic would be traveling to Calais for the Downeast Heritage Center. If so, the enhancement of 182 might draw traffic from Route One.

 

The off-season tourist was also discussed. Ellen Tenan indicated that the fall often brought tourists of an older age group that held a less physical schedule. Efforts should be pursued to attract these individuals to the area. They would generally be looking for facilities such as restaurants and motels.

 

It was recognized that winter tourism currently brings in a lot of money on Route 9 and in Aroostook County. The current local summer tourism season is too short to  support a local motel or a restaurant. To sustain such businesses, year round tourism/activities would need to occur and should be promoted. Ice fishing is active in the region but a safety issue is presented due to a lack of plowing at Tunk Lake  and Spring River. The only option is to park on the edge of the road. The group felt that to increase safety, the access needs to be plowed. It was also expressed that the Hatchery is an excellent location for cross country skiing and snow shoeing. A bigger apron on the Hatchery side would allow for parking in that area. Also, the fact that the turnout area is not plowed in the Blackwoods. Often people stop to use cell phones here which causes a hazard. A picnic area would be nice at Sprague Falls on the south side (shore side of the road). A portion (approximately one acre) may be for sale in that area.

 

Goal 4: Promote community participation in protecting and enhancing the byway.

 

A Corridor Management Committee should be established. Members of the committee to include: LURC, the  Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society, State Bureau of Parks and Land, Charlie Hitchins, Deb Ballam, Narraguagus Snowmobile and ATV Club (best suited for education opportunities) Bangor-Hydro and the Downeast Rivers Land Trust (they are focused on rivers and recreational trails and scenic opportunities but would be willing to participate)

 

Cell towers were mentioned as a detraction from the view. The group felt that one was needed if service that is blocked south of Catherine hill were to be improved. An obvious location would be the Charlie Birdsall property.

 

3.      Closing remarks

 

The final thoughts from those in attendance were:

 

1.      That they were in favor of anything that would improve the road, and

2.      That they really appreciated that the work that was being done.

 

4.      Adjourn

 

The meeting adjourned at approximately 8:30PM.

 

 

Name                       Address                                                 e-mail

Margery Brown         139 Park St.                                   purplelady04622@yahoo.com

Deb Ballam               685 Black Woods Road                 ballam@midmaine.com

Charles Hitchings       685 Blackwoods Rd.                     

Phil Harriman             PO Box 206, Cherryfield               

Dick Fickett              138 Park St. Cherryfield

Ellen Tenan                298 Tenan Lane, Cherryfield           etenan@ruggleshouse.com

Peter Wass                31 Willey D Rd. Cherryfield            PWASS@MIDMAINE.COM

Neil W. Tenan           298 Tenan Lane, Cherryfield          

George Openshaw     PO Box 6, 377 Ridge Rd, Cherryfield gopenshaw@gwi.com

Ashby Bladen            PO Box 477, Cherryfield                friendsoftunk@yahoo.com

Andy Sprague           Cherryfield, ME 04622

Charles Tenan           277 Tenan Lane, Cherryfield          

John Brace                PO Box 177, Cherryfield                railroad@prexar.com

Judy East                   PO Box 631, Calais, ME 04619     jeast@emdc.org

Lorna Thompson       PO Box 2579, Bangor, ME 04402 lthompson@emdc.org

Jim Fisher                  395 State St., Ellsworth, ME          jfisher@hcpcme.org