Limestone hears from locals who want to keep town-owned campground open

4 weeks ago

LIMESTONE, Maine – Limestone officials agreed Wednesday to explore options for potentially keeping the town-owned Trafton Lake Campground and Recreation Area open this summer.

After over 60 years as a campsite, Trafton Lake has been a revenue loss for the town due to not having an on-site manager the last two summers, which worsened problems with plumbing and electrical wiring and discouraged potential campers, said Randy Brooker, Select Board chairperson.

“[Trafton] has always brought in money for the town, but the last two years there was no one to run it,” Brooker said. 

Last year, the campsites only generated $12,000, and cost the town $26,000 to operate. Trafton Lake spans 89 acres and the campground is 49 acres, with 35 recreational vehicle sites and 10 tent sites. 

It’s a site that Glen Edgecomb of Caribou and Jim Ireland of Limestone think still has potential to serve the town and visitors well.

LIMESTONE, Maine — March 20, 2024 — Glen Edgecomb of Caribou discusses what he would do if he became the owner of Trafton Lake Campground and Recreation Area in Limestone. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

Edgecomb, whose family is from Limestone, is interested in possibly purchasing Trafton Lake Campground and Recreation Area. The purchase would likely exclude the boat landing, beach area, parking lot and Lake Road, all of which the town maintains.

On Wednesday, Edgecomb told the Select Board that he would reopen all campgrounds with the proper electrical hook-up for campers – 50 amps instead of 30 amps – make necessary structural upgrades and explore potential expansions.

“Maybe there could be cottages or options for the winter season,” Edgecomb said.

Brooker pointed out that if Edgecomb leased the property from the town instead, that would make the town eligible for grants to upgrade the campsites.

Ireland is interested in becoming Trafton Lake’s summer campground manager and said he would live on site throughout the week to oversee the property and guests, accept payments from campers and deal with any issues that arise.

LIMESTONE, Maine — March 20, 2024 — Jim Ireland of Limestone discusses what he would do if named manager of Trafton Lake Campground and Recreation Area. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

To attract more visitors, Ireland recommended that the town market the campsites online and allow guests to reserve and pay for sites online. If hired as manager, Ireland said he would move the office closer to the entrance and provide maps for anyone who arrives after his office hours.

If the town furnished a lawn mower, Ireland said he would be responsible for maintaining the grounds. Brooker noted that the town needs to purchase a new mower.

Ireland would be in favor of managing the campground regardless of who owns it.

“He’s your best option,” Ireland said about Edgecomb. 

The Select Board entered executive session after their meeting to discuss potential negotiations with Edgecomb and Ireland.

Before the public meeting ended, Select Board member Irma Labreck said she hopes the town will support keeping the campground open.

“I camped there for 30 years and it was always full and brought money to the town,” Labreck said. “I personally don’t want to see it go because it has so much potential.”

The town originally planned to hold a public hearing before the Select Board met Wednesday to gather more community input on Trafton. The board will reschedule the hearing after conversations with Edgecomb and Ireland, said Interim Town Manager Alan Mulherin.

In other business, Mulherin said that the town will be sending three proposed credit enhancement agreements to Green 4 Maine for their review. The agreements will specify how much tax incentives both entities will receive for property that Green 4 Maine owns or plans to own at Loring Commerce Center.

Once the town and Green 4 Maine approve the credit enhancement agreements, all three will be sent to the state for approval, Mulherin said.

Limestone Water & Sewer District could receive part of a $24 million federal congressionally directed spending that will go to 10 Maine communities. The district will use their funds to install more solar panels and a battery bank at their wastewater treatment plant.

The battery bank will allow the solar panels to generate power from the bank instead of the power grid when skies are more cloudy, allowing the treatment plant to run efficiently and save the district money, said Jim Leighton, superintendent of Limestone Water & Sewer District.

The next regular Select Board meeting will be held Wednesday, April 3 at 6 p.m. in the town office, 93 Main St.