Naples gets gush of money for waterline

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

NAPLES — A gush of grant money may assist in adding footage to Naples’ fire-suppression line on both sides of the future fixed bridge.

The Town of Naples waterline project is on the funding list for an $80,000 grant from Cumberland County through its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, according to Town Manager Derik Goodine.

He shared the news on Monday with the Naples Board of Selectmen, which just signed a 10-year bond to cover the cost of putting in an already approved almost 3,000-foot underground waterline from the area near Tony’s Foodland to the bridge. Naples voters approved this first section of the fire suppression project at the last town meeting. (See Naples bonds, page X.)

The new grant money will enable the town to extend the project, putting in place underground pipes from Lake House Road to the Naples Fire and Rescue building, approximately 2,500 feet of waterlines with the primary purpose of aiding the fire department.

During the CDBG interviewing process, the town was able to make the argument that time was of the essence. After all, crews have unearthed a section of ditch; and more earthwork is planned in the Lake House area. Plus, once the Bay of Naples Bridge and Causeway project is complete and the final layer of pavement is down, the town would not be allowed to dig up the road for five years, Goodine said.

“Cutting into a road later is controversial and more costly,” he said.

Because the extra footage of underground piping was not part of the original plan, the town has asked the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) to hold up on “moving dirt” in that shoulder until the annual town meeting when the other two-thirds money for the project is — or isn’t — approved.

“It was the perfect storm of why we are going to do it now,” Goodine said, of getting the grant.

According to Selectman Rick Paraschak, MDOT has agreed to postpone work and get in synch with the town’s timetable.

“They have work to do in the shoulder of road between Lake House Road to the fire station. They have a little more to do uphill, but winter set in first,” he said.

“They are trying to get this done as soon as possible because some areas have been dug up already. But, they can hold up on (another section of ditch) and do it in conjunction with the town,” Paraschak said.

If the town didn’t jump on the project while the ground was open, or when crews were planning to finish ditch work, it would have become a much more costly project, Paraschak said.

Piggybacking on MDOT’s roadwork greatly reduces costs; and the grant scoring committee may have recognized that, according to Goodine.

“We did a good job of presenting our problem and our solution,” he said.

In addition to the timeliness of the project, Naples scored high on its grant application because it met the requirement of a low- to moderate-income level of households.

When speaking before the committee, Goodine had to stress the point that the income survey did not take into account businesses on the Causeway. Instead, less than a dozen private residences along Route 302 and Lake House Road participated in the door-to-door survey.

Another factor for the town landing on the funding list, Goodine said, was the grant writing skills of Paul Ratigan, who has been responsible for grant applications for the fire department.

Last year, Goodine sat on the scoring committee; and at that time, the committee members incorporated the five-minute presentation into the process. Before it was based on written applications, he said.

“So, this year everyone took advantage of the five-minute presentation. That leveled the playing field,” Goodine said.

Next, the grant application goes to the Municipal Oversight Committee before it is approved and awarded.

In addition to providing fire suppression capabilities, the waterline will be designed so it could carry potable water should it be needed in the future, he said. He added stricter septic and well regulations could put pressure on the town to supply water to a portion of its residents and businesses — especially those in the dense lots near the Causeway.

With the $80,000 grant to propel this project forward, the residents must approve funding for the remainder of the water-pipe installation. That would be put to a vote at the annual town meeting.

“This grant is one-third of cost of what we were hoping to spend,” Paraschak said.

He said discussions are occurring with the person who designed the project. From there, the group will put together a 10-year plan for fire suppression.

“So, people know we are not just shooting from the hip. We want the board to endorse the plan. This plan will be where we are heading,” he said.

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