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Demo zip line draws closer
Members of Envision Rumford! have several projects in an effort to energize Rumford's business climate, including designing and printing two-sided maps of downtown Rumford and greater Rumford to help visitors find "the Island," navigate its one-way streets, and locate businesses and services there. Seen here is an oversized display of the map. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
RUMFORD -- What had been an idea is getting closer to becoming a reality -- a single day, dual zip line for the Fourth of July celebration at Hosmer Field.
Envision Rumford!, is a local group working to bring zip lines here as one of their ventures in an ongoing effort to energize Rumford's business climate. Having the single-day dual zip line on Hosmer Field, the location for the Fourth of July event, would be part of the committee's Thumbs Up! campaign to try to drum up support for this ambitious project.
Meeting Thursday morning at the Rumford Hotel, member Tom Carey said he believes this dual zip line for the Fourth of July is going to happen. While it would be used for just the one day, it may need to be set up a couple days earlier for an inspection. A permit from the state Fire Marshal's Office would be required.
The plan calls for the town to supply two large sand-filled dump trucks, with wheels blocked, to anchor and hold the tension in the cables. Member Jim Sysko, an engineer from Newry who made his own 5,000-foot zip line, indicated that pull could be as much as 5,000 pounds when two heavy people ride.
One of the trucks will be parked in a parking space in the Hannaford parking lot, with the other truck at the turnout beyond the right field fence of the baseball field.
The 500-foot zip line would be launched on the banking beyond the third base line of the baseball field, running to just before the rightfield fence. When not in use, the half-inch cables will be at least 30 feet above the ball field over home plate and 10 feet up as they pass over the right field fence near the foul pole.
Carey said it’s felt they will need a team of six to eight people to safely operate the lines. The tentative running time would be from noon to 6 p.m., with a spill over if necessary.
Member Jennifer Kreckel said she's still looking into the issue of insurance. Carey said there will be a charge for the demo zip line, but maybe no more than $5 to cover expenses.
Consideration will also be given for a petition of sorts, for people to sign in support of the zip line project.
Plans for permanent zip lines over Pennacook Falls and under the Memorial Bridge are currently running into roadblocks as both Brookfield Power and the Maine Dept. of Transportation are presently against the idea.
While people in the community, including the Rumford Board of Selectmen, are cheering in support for this project, Carey said that a zip line project is new for these agencies to deal with and they are "nervous" about it "rather than proactive."
In a May 2 letter to Carey from Mel Jiganti, director of legal services for Brookfield Power, because the proposed zip line project would reside on and/or pass through Brookfield's property and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commisson's (FERC) licensed project boundary, "we must inform you that we cannot agree to an easement allowing access to our property for this use."
Jiganti said Brookfield, in recent years, has denied use of its property for fishing derbies, kayaking and boating.
"Brookfield cannot approve activities inside the project boundary if those activities are in violation of our safety policies."
While Carey acknowledged that they have regulations and laws they have to follow, "they had to decide where their allegiance is. They need to understand how important this is to Rumford and how essential it is to our survival."
The letter listed seven different concerns for public safety Brookfield has in regards to this project. Carey responded to those concerns as he now awaiting correspondance from Brookfield to that end.
On a positive noted, Carey said the meeting a Central Maine Power engineer was positive in that he answered all their questions and "gave us a fair shot."
MDOT informed Carey they are not favorable for permitting a zip line over or under the roads and bridges. Carey has inquired about specifics for laws and regulations on this.
The group concurred with Carey that now may be the time to reach out to members of their state delegation. Rep. Matt Peterson has already written a letter of support for zip lines in Rumford.
It was suggested that they discussed their effort with the state economic developer and possibly someone who has the ear of the governor.
The group agreed that zip lines would attract recreation to this area, making it very important economically.
Carey said this zip line, which would be world class, would be unique in its proximity to Rt. 2 and the business district.
He added, "There are roadblocks. We'll try to knock them down. Until every stone is turned, we're not going away."
The group also discussed the design and printing of two-sided maps of downtown Rumford and greater Rumford to help visitors find "the Island," navigate its one-way streets, and locate businesses and services there.
Members Jennifer Kreckel and Tammi Lyons solicited 52 ads from 46 businesses and non-profits around the out edges of the maps, which covered the cost of printing 5,000 copies. They were designed by Cherry Smith and printed Tom Bourret of The Maine Press.
With the box of the maps in front of them, they discussed where they wanted them distributed to. Besides the town office, local businesses, they will be displayed at the information center, the town library and on the information kiosk at the Rumford Boat Ramp.