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Madawaska selectmen approve new restroom location for Bicentennial Park

MADAWASKA, Maine — Madawaska Board of Selectmen approved a new proposed location for restroom facilities in the Bicentennial Park Monday evening.

The original facilities were torn down after controversy surrounding the location in proximity of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in 2016.

Bicentennial Park is bordered by 12th Avenue, St. Thomas Street, 11th Avenue and Acadia Street,  with one private property located at the corner of 11th Avenue and St. Thomas Street. The new permanent restrooms, which will feature running water and separate toilets for men and women, are to be located, directly behind that one residence owned by the Sandy Peterson family.

During Monday’s meeting, select board member Alan Nash-Pelletier asked whether neighboring homeowners and the Peterson family in particular, who had expressed concerns and opposition to the previous location, were OK with the new location.

None of the other councilors or Town Manager Gary Picard indicated they were aware of the neighbors’ sentiments.

“We are well within our right as owners to do what we need to do,” said board member Donald Chasse. “There may still be some unhappy people, I can understand that.”

The park originally was owned by the Catholic Diocese of Portland until the city acquired the land. The park is used for regular summer music concerts and Acadian Festival events. The board expressed a desire to build restrooms with running water for sanitation purposes especially because food often is served at events. Without restrooms, the city has been using a single portable toilet.

Sandy Peterson who owns the home in the park, said Tuesday that she did not attend Monday night’s meeting because she was not aware of it. Peterson said she had been in contact with church officials when the diocese still owned the land and asked them not to allow a restroom to be built near her home. Peterson also said she expressed concerns about the original placement being so close to the memorial. Now, with the newly approved location near her home, Peterson has more concerns.

“We are the only home directly in the park,” Peterson said. “We worked hard to beautify our home, to keep it nice and I just wish that, out of being kind neighbors, [the city] would respect our wishes.”

Peterson said she previously suggested to Picard that the facilities be placed on the corner of 12th Avenue and Acadia Street. That area of the park is not used and is away from the middle of the activities that go on there, she said.

“We understand the children need a bathroom in the park and I want them to have one in the park,” Peterson said. “Maybe they would have to dig a little bit to place the bathrooms [in the far corner] of the park, but they can put trees and make it look nice.”

Town Manager Picard acknowledged Tuesday that Peterson had approached him with concerns in the weeks prior to Monday’s meeting and that he had informed her about the meeting.  

Both Picard and the chairman of the board, Brian Thibeault, said at the meeting that the new location was the best one.

“It makes a whole lot more sense to put that facility there than anywhere else on that lot,” Thibeault said.

Picard said that the Board of Selectmen had considered every option in the park, but that was the best location for the facilities. The water and sewer lines already have been extended to the veterans memorial with the previous restroom facilities.

“It is just a matter of digging up those connections and routing them over to the new location,” Picard said. “The new lines will run parallel with St. Thomas Street, if you will, and run up to the new facilities.”

Picard stated that he was not sure how difficult it would be to route the lines to the corner of 12th Avenue and Acadia Street because that had not really been a location that they had considered.

Picard said Tuesday he was not sure when the new restrooms would be completed.

Follow Morgan Mitchell on Twitter @TheMaineMorgan

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