Naples turns down grant money

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

NAPLES — “Take the money and run” is an expression made popular in a rock ’n roll song recorded by the Eagles.

How about take the money and re-run?

If the town accepted a $125,000 grant, it would have to re-do land surveys and engineering plans and start over with the bidding process for a job that has already been awarded to Wyman & Simpson.

The Naples Board of Selectmen Monday voted unanimously to refuse the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that would help pay for a section of the town’s underground fire suppression pipes.

“To make it clear to everyone: It isn’t that we don’t want the money. It’s that the grant is so restrictive,” Board Chairman Christine Powers said.

The federal grant comes with strings attached: a requirement to put the project out to bid again and go with the lowest bidder, according to Town Manager Derik Goodine.

It wasn’t the easiest decision for the board, some members said. But, after weighing the information and looking at the paving timeline, selectmen decided to turn down the money by a 4-0 vote. Selectman Bob Caron Sr. was not present at the meeting.

Selectman Rick Paraschak commented on the difficulty of coming to the conclusion that taking the grant money might cost more in the long run, and put at risk the project’s schedule for completion.

“I don’t make this motion lightly. Paul Ratigan and Derik worked hard for this grant, and even pushed for more money,” Paraschak said. “Another town will get the money, and be able to use it.”

Earlier this year, Goodine submitted the town’s application for the CDBG through Cumberland County. Naples originally asked for $87,000, but bumped that number up to $125,000 — the amount that was awarded to the town for the fire suppression infrastructure.

Goodine said if he had known sooner in the process that the grant money was tied to re-bidding the project, he would have put his energy elsewhere and found another project suitable for the CDBG program.

“I thought we would be able to do it as a change order,” he said.

At the annual town meeting on June 8, residents approved the use of $260,000 toward the installation of fire suppression pipes placed underground from the west side of the bridge to the Naples Fire and Rescue Station. Water pipes would also run along Lake House Road.

The project had been awarded to Wyman & Simpson, the construction company tasked with the Bay of Naples Bridge and Causeway renovation project. Since Wyman & Simpson already would be doing ditch work in the fall, the cost to the town is lower to piggyback onto that project.

According to Goodine, “The build period is a maximum of four weeks, and the possibility of rainy weather” could shorten that time period.

The fire suppression installation could not begin until after Labor Day since it would require the closing of one lane; and the state transportation department's agreement with the town is that Route 302 will be open to two lanes of traffic from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. By state law, paving must be completed around the third week of October, which gives the project little time for delays or bad weather.

Goodine said if the project went out to bid again, it could become “a logistical nightmare.”

In addition, the price of many materials including 12-inch pipe has risen since the town awarded the bid to Wyman & Simpson, he told the board.

In an effort to save money, Goodine plans to skip the temporary paving over of the ditches and a $10,000 bill for the town.

“I look at it as a waste of money,” he said, adding the pavement would be torn up in the fall.

The best approach could be not to do anything, he said of the temporary pavement plan.

“I haven’t heard that many people complaining about the dust along the shoulder of the road,” Goodine said.

Please follow and like us: