Debris is covered in snow Jan. 3 outside the Rumford Parks and Recreation garage on Lincoln Ave. in Rumford. The Dec. 18 storm that dumped 5.1 inches of rain on the area caused about $2 million in damage to the Hosmer Field Complex and parks equipment when the Swift River overflowed its banks, Superintendent Marcus Palmer said. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — The joyful sound of children and families ice skating will not be heard at the Hosmer Field Complex hockey rink this winter. And local and school ball teams will not be playing at the ball fields because of the damage from the Dec. 18 flooding.

Rumford Parks and Recreation Superintendent Marcus Palmer said the rainstorm caused about $2 million in damage to the Hosmer Field Complex on Lincoln Avenue, as well as the parks office and equipment in the garage beside the office in the low-lying area near the then-swollen Swift River.

“We lost pretty much everything,” he said. “Might be able to salvage a little here, a little there. But anything of significance is gone.”

The storm dumped 5.1 inches of rain in Rumford, according to National Weather Service office in Gray.

Last week, 20-plus year parks employee Kevin Grassette was cleaning up the debris in the parks office. Part of the cleanup included the warming shack for ice skating, where skates were kept. He said the flood destroyed 110 pairs.

He said that on Dec. 18 he received a phone call around 3:30 p.m. to come to the office to try to get some equipment in the nearby garage to higher ground, but it was too late. “It came up so fast,” he said.


The floodwater line in the building was 2 feet from the floor, he said.

Rumford Parks and Recreation employee Kevin Grassette cleans up the office Jan. 3 after floodwaters caused about $2 million damage to the Hosmer Field Complex on Lincoln Avenue and equipment. Part of the cleanup included the warming shack where 110 pairs of skates were destroyed. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

One of the department’s two large mowers was in the equipment garage beside the office, where everything was lost and there is 6 inches of mud.

A big chunk of the driveway from the office to the equipment garage was gone.

Rumford Public Works Superintendent Dale Roberts said Thursday that it required 540 yards of gravel to fill a gaping hole in front of the equipment building. They also dragged away the large pieces of pavement.

Under the town’s insurance, the Parks Department has flood insurance on the office, the garage, equipment and the snack shack.

Tallying up the damage, Palmer said 95% of the fencing was uprooted and twisted and will cost over $400,000 to replace.


He said between the baseball field and the three fields across the street, “you’re looking at roughly $180,000 damage to bring them back so that it’s safe to use. There’s so much rock in there now.”

Palmer said the football field has mud all through it.

“The track, it doesn’t look like we have washouts,” he said. “But when it drained, it froze around the track, so we haven’t really been able to see it because there’s so much dirt on it. There could be cracks in it. You just don’t know. We probably won’t know that until spring now.”

Then there’s the silt that gets into everything. That’s the one issue with the snack shack, located next to the track, which had a new fryolator installed last summer, Palmer said.

“How do you clean that to make it safe to serve food out of?” he asked.

Palmer said the insurance adjuster looking over the damage said, “‘You don’t. You’re never going to get it all out.’”


Regarding the timeline for repairs, Palmer said, “A lot of this is going to freeze. How much can you do? Once it freezes, you’re done with that kind of stuff until spring. Then it’s hang on because once spring comes, then you’ve got the grass growing and everything else. Unless we can get some contractors to come in and help, I don’t know how we’re going to do it. It will be a very slow process.”

He said he called officials at Regional School Unit 10 that contracts to use park fields and there will be no spring sports at the complex and maybe fall ones, depending on what insurance covers and how fast repairs can be done.

Palmer said he doesn’t know how damage will affect a half-million dollar project to install a canopy over the 200- by 50-foot hockey rink, expected to begin in the spring. That long-awaited project was made possible by a $251,000 matching grant from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund, which is administered by the Bureau of Parks and Lands in the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

He said the project also includes replacing the 50-year-old boards around the rink.

Palmer said they have until 2026 to use the grant. “For now, our focus is going to have to be on cleanup and restoring what we had,” he said.

Any damage to the track that surrounds the football field, he said. It was repaved in 2018 as part of a $660,00 project that included LED lighting for the football field and improvements to the half-mile walking trail that runs along the Swift River.

Grassette said the flooding also washed out sections of the walking trail.

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