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An artist rendering depicts the main hall that will be constructed at Camp Foster in Bedford as part of the facility's renovations designed by the engineering firm CLD Fuss & O'Neill. (courtesy photo)

Camp Foster renovation project approved in Bedford

BEDFORD — Planning officials have approved a site plan that will allow Camp Foster to begin numerous renovations to its facility later this summer.

The goal of the project is to provide a safer facility for campers that will retain the charm of the outdoor complex at 36 Camp Road, said Ken Neil, chief operating officer with the Boys and Girls Club of Manchester, the organization that owns and operates Camp Foster.

A capital campaign is being launched to help raise funds for the improvements, which include the demolition of several cabins and the reconstruction of new outdoor classroom pavilions, new athletic courts and updated fields, an enlarged performance stage and a new, modern pool house, as well as additional parking and drainage improvements.

“Our goal is to keep this program affordable,” said Neil, explaining camper fees will not be increased to support the renovations.

Although the Planning Board expressed several concerns about the existing entryway to the camp, specifically the intersection of Camp Road and Back River Road, it agreed that Camp Foster is just one of four entities that uses the private roadway and should not be solely responsible for its improvements.

“No one has taken a close look at this intersection and the condition that it is in today,” said Becky Hebert, planning director. She said there is significant traffic on Camp Road, in part because of the abutting Global Premier Soccer fields.

Several neighbors voiced concerns about the traffic on Camp Road.

“The traffic is constant … something has to be done,” said Annette Parker of 164 Back River Road She said that once Camp Foster is improved, there will likely be even more cars traveling the private roadway.

Neil stressed that if the road is upgraded, he worries vehicles might speed in an area that has more than 400 children on a daily basis in the summer.

In addition, he questioned whether there was only a perceived risk at the intersection, or whether accidents have actually occurred there.

The gravel driveway will be improved, a formal parking area will be established and the main hall at Camp Foster is set to be relocated.

Although the existing pool will remain, a new pool house with updated bathroom facilities and changing areas will be constructed.

Brian Pratt with CLD Fuss & O’Neill, the engineering firm working on the project, said the existing fields will be upgraded and enlarged.

“They are kind of like the rest of the camp — in disrepair,” he said of the fields. Stadium floodlighting will be added to one area of fields to allow for evening recreational use.

Hebert said she fears that once stadium lights are installed, it will generate much more traffic, similar to the GPS soccer fields.

Neil said he met with abutters previously and they did not have any concerns about the stadium lighting.

“We are on track to start construction,” said Neil, adding he hopes to begin the project at the end of the summer so that work will be completed before the start of the next camp season in 2019.

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