News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 19, 2023
Passionate pickleballers pitch plan for public place to play
Recycling rules remain problematic

by David Avery

The select board met January 17 at Emerson Hall and approved a request by Friends of Castine Pickleball to investigate building three courts at the back shore.

“Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States,” Therese Biggie told the board and the 18 in attendance.

Biggie said that there are 125 pickleball players in Castine, not counting those at Maine Maritime Academy and at Adams School. They currently play in the MMA field house when it is available, she said. But, she added, there are many benefits to playing outdoors, like fresh air and sunshine.

The group proposes raising private funds to design and build the courts on public land. The town would then own the facility.

The back shore area is one of several locations considered, Biggie said, but it has many advantages she told the board. There is parking and space and during summer there is a bathroom available. In addition, there are already recreational facilities there, including volleyball and bocce ball courts, she said.

The board approved the request by Friends to investigate what it might take to locate courts at the back shore.

Pickleball is played on a court similar to a tennis court but smaller, 44 feet by 20 feet. It is sort of a combination of tennis and badminton with a three-foot-high net.

The board approved the request, 3-0, but acting chair Gordon MacArthur clarified that the approval was only for the investigation. Any use of town land would have to be approved at town meeting, Town Clerk Susan Macomber said.

Recycling guidelines not followed

In other action, Town Manager Shawn Blodgett expressed concern about continued challenges to the zero-sort recycling program currently in place in Castine. In particular, he told the board that too many residents continue to put used paper towels, tissues and other prohibited items in their curbside recycling.

When this occurs, he said, the whole bag goes to the landfill because no one is being paid to separate the non-recyclables. He urges residents to pay closer attention to the regulations.

“If you want to participate in recycling, please pay attention to the recycling standards.”

The rules are outlined in a downloadable and printable brochure at the Castine town website.

Blodgett also reported that the cost of the zero sort recycling went up again over the 2022 costs.

The board also approved the receipt of a donation from the Castine Fire Rescue Volunteer Association. The $9,220 gift will go toward the purchase of more than a dozen tools, training items and medical equipment.

Blodgett reported that Maine Coast Heritage Trust is working to create a trail along a right of way that reaches Battle Avenue from Witherle Woods. The group has a right of way across the parcel that the town purchased as a possible site for a future fire station.

Blodgett reported that MCHT will have to go before the Planning Board due to the extent of earth moving involved.

Blodgett also reported on some issues potentially centered at the transfer station. First, the town needs a home for an electric school bus, and the area near the transfer station makes sense. Second, he said that the town needs a garage and a place to wash town vehicles which only last a short time due to salt-induced rust. In addition, town employees at the transfer station have no bathroom.

Finally, he wondered if the monetary inducement offered by American Tower to extend its lease of Castine town property near the transfer station could help toward some of these goals.

The board approved Maine Maritime Academy’s annual Klondike Event for Scouts that occurs at Fort George. This year it will involve some fire pits that have been approved by the fire chief, Blodgett said.

The board also approved general fund and water warrants of more than $65,000, some of which went toward producing a new axle for a donated cannon. Temple Blackwood of Highlands Wood Turning made the axle.

The next board meeting is February 6 at 4 p.m. at Emerson Hall.