FREEPORT — The Ordinance Rewrite Committee will review a proposal to change the way seasonal campsites are awarded at Winslow Park, the next step in a process that could eliminate the long-standing lottery system used to assign the coveted sites.

Councilor Doug Reighley, the council liaison to the Winslow Park Commission, said the last revision to the Winslow Park ordinance was made in 1997. He said the park’s policy has been that if someone had a campsite one season, that person would have first crack at rebooking the same site the following season. But there isn’t any specific language in the ordinance, which is what the proposed change would address.

If adopted, the proposal would allow people who have sites to keep them the following year. Going forward, if the number of applicants exceeds the available sites, campers would be chosen on a first-come, first-served basis.

Winslow Park is operated seasonally and closed at the end of September. Campsites and trails offer views of Casco Bay, and the campground includes amenities such as a boat launch and picnic areas. Campsite rentals start at $30 a month; there are 30 seasonal sites and 70 other campsites at the park.

Town Manager Peter Joseph said theissue was raised about two years ago at a Winslow Park Commission meeting and has continued being discussed in subsequent meetings and in the public. It is now a matter that needs council action, he said.

“The Commission considered several different options, and during the deliberations, members of the Commission raised whether there were legal concerns related to the rental of these sites,” Joseph said.

Neil Lyman, who manages Winslow Park, told the council at its Tuesday meeting that Commission meetings had been pretty ordinary and well-attended until about two years ago. That is when the issue of seasonal campsites was first raised by George Connick, the vice chairman of the commission.

Connick started the push to eliminate seasonal campsites, which have been a part of Winslow Park’s operating policy for at least 30 years. Connick said the town could end up in court if the council ultimately votes to keep the lottery system, though the council could choose to not even address the policy at all. He thinks a legal challenge could be brought by a group of concerned residents.

Reighley said Connick’s interpretation of the park’s trust, which governs its operation, doesn’t allow for seasonal campsites and that the park should prioritize Freeport residents. But Lyman said there are very few applications from Freeport residents, and he estimated that about 10 seasonal campsites have been rented by town residents in the last few years.

The practice of giving out seasonal campsites started sometime in the 1970s, Connick said. It was a way for the park — which has never received any town funds — to generate revenue.

The commission has always voted in favor of keeping the seasonal campsites in recent action taken, Reighley said, but those votes have not been accepted by Connick. Both the trust’s attorney and the town’s attorney have concluded that seasonal campsites are not in violation and could remain a part of the park’s operation.

Freeport resident Jim Hughes said he spends a lot of time walking at Winslow Park. He has attended Winslow Park Commission meetings and said it’s obvious that seasonal campsites don’t violate the park’s trust.

“We’re not going to be sued, and we’re not going to lose the park,” said Hughes, who was the only member of the public to speak at Tuesday’s meeting.

Hughes said the most democratic way to select seasonal campsites is a first-come, first-served basis. He said when someone goes to the deli at Hannaford, the employee doesn’t select a name out of a barrel to see who is next served for American cheese.

“A lottery makes no sense for assigning of seasonal campsites,” Hughes said.

The issue was first raised by Freeport’s town manager in 1977, when he asked whether the policy violated the terms of the park’s deed. According to an opinion given by Bernstein Shur, which represented the town in 1977, if the park got crowded and the policy was challenged, the town could face a legal problem.

Connick said over the years, Freeport councils have taken a cautious approach to the policy and didn’t really discuss the practice.

Once the Ordinance Rewrite Committee makes its recommendation to the council, the council would hold two public hearings before deciding how to proceed. The council can choose to accept the recommended change, make its own change or do nothing.

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