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Camp Foster in Bedford has approached the local planning board with conceptual plans to renovate its facility this fall. CLD Fuss & O'Neill is the engineering firm working on the project, which has presented several artist renderings on the proposed improvements. (COURTESY)

Camp Foster in Bedford could undergo major makeover

BEDFORD — A local summer camp is proposing a major makeover that includes numerous renovations to its aging facility.

Camp Foster, which has been operating a seasonal day camp for children since 1925, is hoping to begin significant improvements to its 22-acre site this fall.

“The buildings are really in a sad state of repairs,” said Ken Neil, chief operating officer with the Boys and Girls Club of Manchester, the organization that owns and operates Camp Foster at 36 Camp Road.

Some of the proposed renovations will address safety concerns, while other improvements aim to update the facilities and services offered at the site.

During the summer, more than 400 children participate in the day camp on a daily basis, according to Neil, who said the facility is also rented for private celebrations or family gatherings on the weekends. The summer season kicks off on Monday when 410 children are expected to attend the first day of camp, said Neil.

Conceptual plans, which were introduced to the Bedford Planning Board this week, include the demolition of several cabins and the reconstruction of new outdoor classroom pavilions, new athletic courts and updated fields, the addition of a performance stage, amphitheater and a modern pool house, as well as additional parking and drainage improvements.

Some of the existing cabin structures are nearly 80 years old, said Neil, explaining the camp was last renovated in 1941.

Conceptual plans also include a main building hall that will be located in the center of the camp with an outdoor patio, a beach volleyball court and a basketball court, said Brian Pratt with CLD Fuss & O’Neill, the engineering firm working on the project.

The renovation plans are still preliminary, and the Boys and Girls Club of Manchester will need to submit a formal site plan before the planning board votes on the changes.

Other improvements that are being considered include a new grading process with an underground filtration system to manage stormwater runoff, a parking area for buses and outdoor lighting to the main entryway and the athletic facilities, said Pratt.

Concerns have already been raised by town officials about Camp Road, a Class VI roadway that is shared by Camp Foster and three other entities that utilize the gravel roadway, including Camp Allen, the Girl Scouts and a soccer group.

Becky Hebert, planning director, said the town would prefer to have the roadway paved. However, Pratt said it could cost up to $1 million to pave the 2,000-feet roadway.

There have been preliminary discussions with a representative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see if that group could explore doing some of the road work. Still, Neil stressed that a memo of understanding has been signed by all of the entities using the roadway, which addresses maintenance needs and requires that the road be graded three times a year and that calcium chloride be placed on the roadway once a year to reduce dust.

If the project is approved by the planning board and zoning board, Neil said he is hopeful that work can begin in September and that the camp will be ready to reopen, fully renovated, in the spring of 2019.

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