Paul Coulombe’s vision for Village Square, and hopes for skating rink

Posted:  Monday, October 2, 2017 - 8:45am
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On the off-chance you haven't noticed, there are changes occurring at Boothbay Center, or Village Square, as it’s now called.

Paul Coulombe has purchased much of the real estate along Route 27 from the former Clipper Mart to, but not including, Wanser’s Market. With the roundabout now well on its way to completion, Coulombe is forging ahead with other projects, including widening the road leading to the center and renovating the convenience store, formerly Clipper Mart, now the Boothbay Village Market.

Coulombe said the store and the surrounding grounds have been in his sights for over two years. He took over ownership around a year ago, after trying to convince the previous owner to improve the appearance of the store and the area around it. “He met with me a couple  times, and we showed him the plans for the Route 27 improvements — to soften the curve and make it safer to get in and out of the parking lot at the store.

“I didn’t really want to buy it, I just wanted to clean it up and create the new entrance to the community. It was such an integral part of the beginning of the improvements, and really all I wanted was a smooth transition into the town,” he said.

Coulombe eventually agreed to buy the property for $1.8 million. “I don’t really want to own a convenience store. It wasn’t an investment for me. I did it because I thought it was important to the community.”

Before he bought the property, Coulombe knew the fuel tanks had been leaking into the ground, threatening to drain into Adams Pond, the public water supply beside the property. “We knew there was contamination there. Jon Zeigra of the water district worked with us. He’s a super great guy, and he knew there were issues there. We did borings to determine the level of the contamination.”

The tanks replaced three years ago were dug up, and it was determined that they had been placed on top of the already contaminated dirt, saturated with oil and gases. The cost for the removal of the tanks and contaminated dirt was almost $200,000, but Coulombe said it was worth it. “This will help keep the public water safe.”

The store closed Sept. 28 for renovations and will reopen on or around Oct. 11. Old signs have been removed and new, more aesthetically pleasing lighting is being installed, along with extensive landscaping and a newly paved parking lot, all to the tune of around $600,000.

The same tall, black streetlights at the market will be installed along Route 27, down to the YMCA. They’re part of the Route 27 improvements and Coulombe said they’ll start where the construction begins and stop where it ends, along with a sidewalk and bicycle path.

His hope is the same lights will eventually be lining the streets throughout town.

The total cost of the Route 27 project will be around $10 million, with $3.3 million of it equally divided between the Maine Department of Transportion, the town and Coulombe. The rest has come out of Coulombe’s pocket, for land acquisitions and improvements.

One of the improvements is the the new, $1.65 million ambulance center Coulombe funded. “It was entirely my footing. Not a lot of people know that.”

The interior of the new Boothbay Village Market will be cleaned up and renovated, but its inventory won’t change much. It will still be a convenience store, and Subway will continue to sell its sandwiches.

The landscaping will be similar to that across the road at the entrance to the country club. The widening of the road leading to the center, the landscaping and a median strip that will be planted with flowers are all in the works. “It’s all about Route 27,” Coulombe said. “It’s going to be gorgeous.”

Another project he has in the works is a new building next to the common, with two large public restrooms, and a parking lot that will accommodate 36 or more cars. “People will be able to park there, use the restrooms, and walk over to the farmer’s market.”

Then there’s what Coulombe calls his “most exciting plan of all,” a skating rink on the common. He became more animated as he talked about it.

“I’m working with the town and the BCA (Boothbay Civic Association). The BCA is extremely active in doing a lot of good that people don’t hear about. They take care of the common and the monuments, and the town hall. They’ve spent a lot of money on improvements and maintenance. You have to get their blessing to do something at the common.”

Coulombe just got the association’s blessing for the possibility of a skating rink. “We’d like to try to do it for this winter,” he said. “It would be gorgeous as people drive into town, with beautiful lights surrounding it.”

He said the town’s TIF funds could pay for it, but voters have to approve TIF spending. Coulombe said he’s ready to get it started, but it needs to be approved by the town first. If that doesn’t happen, he may put the rink on his land next to the common. Either way, if a skating rink is built, the new restrooms will be open to the public during the winter.

With all the construction going on it’s hard to imagine what the area will look like. Coulombe said the construction company doing the work is guaranteeing completion June 30. “But we’re hopeful that it will be before Memorial Day. That’s what our goal is — before the season starts.”

In additional notes, construction of a fitness pavilion at the Boothbay Harbor Country Club continues, with completion anticipated in May. Plans include an 1,800-square-foot fitness room with Cybex equipment, two tennis courts, two pickleball courts, a heated salt water pool and a 12-person hot tub overlooking the pool.

Coulombe also confirmed he has purchased the Lobster Dock on Atlantic Avenue, just up the road from his business, Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf Resort.