Selectmen to ask voters to dip into TIF funds

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

The cost for the Depot Street Streetscape Project has come in, and it won’t be cheap. New pavement, drainage, sidewalks, streetlights and on-street parking changes are estimated to total $378,034, leaving a shortfall of nearly $100,000 even after all available Community Development Block Grant appropriations, including unexpended funds dating back to 2011, are used.

To deal with the shortfall, Director of Planning, Economic and Community Development Anne Krieg asked Selectmen at their April 8 meeting to approve a warrant item seeking voters’ approval to spend $95,358 from the town’s TIF fund. Any use of TIF funds over $50,000 requires voter approval, and this would be the first use of the fund since its creation around eight years ago.

Krieg said the cost estimate came from Milone & MacBroom, the design firm hired by the town to create a construction plan for Depot Street, from Main Street at Renys to the Corn Shop Bridge. The total includes $256,180 for construction, $30,000 for design and engineering and a 30% contingency amount of $76,854. The work is scheduled to begin Aug. 25 of this year, and is to be completed by November.

Krieg identified funding sources as follows: 2011 CDBG, $45,000 (from the unused dental clinic project); 2012 CDBG, $20,498 (direct funding for Depot Street); 2013 CDBG, $185,177 ($67,677 in direct funding, $80,000 redirected from the Main Street sewer project and $37,500 redirected from a new septic leach field); and $32,000 (portion of project that is on the Renys property).

Krieg told the board she hoped the costs would drop somewhat as the town fine-tunes its own part in providing drainage work and new sewer connections once the roadbed is exposed.

Final design plans for the project will be brought to the board for approval at their May 27 meeting.

Fireworks ban shot down

Bridgton Selectmen shot down member Bob McHatton’s appeal to allow voters to decide whether consumer fireworks should be banned in town. The vote was 2–3, with members Bernie King, Ken Murphy and Doug Taft opposed.

McHatton repeated his argument that residents opposed to fireworks altogether weren’t given a voice at last year’s Town Meeting, when the only choice on the warrant was a new Fireworks Ordinance that was slightly more restrictive than the state’s newly-permissive rules. The ordinance was approved by a vote of 288 in favor and 140 opposed.

“I just want to give residents a chance to voice their opinion,” said McHatton, but acknowledged that his request had been debated long enough.

CMP land option purchase

Selectmen agreed to sell Central Maine Power Company a nonbuildable, tenth-of-an-acre lot on Moore Street, between lower Main Street and Plummer’s Landing Road, for $16,500. The town acquired the property for nonpayment of taxes in February of 2003, and CMP needs it as part of their transmission line upgrade project.

“(The land) happens to be a piece that falls within the line they’re bringing in from Harrison to Power House Road,” said Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz. Its assessed value is $14,140, and the $16,500 option-to-purchase sales price was based on an appraisal done by CMP in January of 2014. The initial payment will be $825, or 5% of the purchase price, which will be applied to the purchase price. The option period will be 12 to 18 months.

CMP received prior approval from the town for a major upgrade of its substation on Power House Road. The project includes a widening of the transmission corridor from the substation to facilities in Harrison.

Board pay raise revisited

Voters at Town Meeting will be asked to approve a $500 pay raise for selectmen. Last year, the board voted to pay back the raises they received because it wasn’t made clear to either voters or the board that the budget included funds for a raise.

Selectman McHatton said the board had intended to clarify the situation by including it as a separate line item in the budget, but that never happened. Therefore, he said, the pay raise should be included in this year’s budget.

Chairman Doug Taft voted against a raise, saying that when board members returned the money last year, he thought that settled the matter. But McHatton said the question of whether selectmen were deserving of a raise ought to be left up to the people to decide.

For many years, the compensation for a selectman has been $1,000 a year, with $1,500 allotted to the chairman of the board. The raises would bring the compensation rate to $1,500 and $2,000, respectively.

Town its own trash hauler?

The Recycling Committee has been researching the cost of leasing vehicles so that the town can haul its own trash to the ecomaine incinerator in Portland, thereby saving on the town’s solid waste disposal costs. They will present their report at the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, April 22, which begins at 5 p.m. in the Bridgton Municipal Complex.

Mack’s Place liquor license

Derrick and Matty Mack have opened a new restaurant in Bridgton called Mack’s Place at 224 Portland Road, and have been approved by selectmen for a new liquor license. They will open in the building that for years housed Lake Region House of Pizza until it was closed recently. The Macks are Bridgton residents.

Also given approval for a liquor license was Lake Region Caterers, who will provide the food and drinks at the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner on May 15 at Bridgton Academy.

FEMA storm policy

Bridgton Selectmen approved a resolution in support of the Maine Emergency Management Agency’s efforts to convince the Federal Emergency Management Agency to amend its storm policy by adding ice storms to the list of natural disasters qualifying for federal disaster assistance.

The resolution states that Bridgton, like other Maine towns, has experienced “extraordinary costly ice storm impacts to its road infrastructure as the result of the unabated winter storms” that occurred between Dec. 21, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014. It disagreed with FEMA’s decision that costs of emergency road maintenance and repair by towns were ineligible under its Snow Assistance and Severe Winter Storm Policy 9523. The FEMA policy excludes sand, salt and snow and ice road treatment costs unless there is a near-record snowfall, according to the resolution.

The resolution states that it is “understandable” for FEMA to hold northern states to a higher standard to have a snowstorm qualify as a disaster. But it points out that FEMA policy in other disaster situations, such as hurricanes or floods, is to provide disaster assistance so that roads can be maintained during and after the storm for emergency vehicle access.

The resolution concludes by stating that Bridgton Selectmen will “engage other Maine municipalities in a united effort to bring national attention” to the fact that “the ice storm damages experienced in these communities are very real and are worthy of their support and attention.”


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