South side of street project set to go out to bid

By Stuart Hedstrom 
Staff Writer

    MILO — For the last several months the status of a project to improve Main Street has been uncertain, with some of the funding sources up in the air and various components of the project in question. To get some answers Town Manager David Maynard met during the day April 16 with officials from the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) in Augusta and he reported on his findings to the selectmen during a meeting that evening.

    Maynard said funding, such as through a number of grants awarded to Milo in recent years, is available to make improvements to the intersections of Main Street with Pleasant and Elm streets and to the sidewalk between the two locations. “The sidewalk, lights and trees on the other side of the street, there is no money right now to pay for those,” he said. This work is scheduled to go out to bid on May 8 as the selectmen voted to move forward with this aspect of the Main Street project.
    “In conjunction with this, there were other areas to work out,” Maynard said. Paving on Route 11 conducted by the state was added into the Main Street project, but now he said this work, which includes up Park Street toward Brownville, has been separated again and is scheduled for 2014.
    Maynard explained that the MDOT needed a right of way through Maine Generator’s property near the beginning of Park Street in order for conducting some drainage work “They are now saying the moment that is functional they will release what is keeping (business owners) the Ladds from expanding their business,” he said. Maynard added that the release of the MDOT right of way will also enable the adjacent NAPA Auto Parts to move forward with a potential expansion of its loading dock.
    The meeting in Augusta included discussion on a turning lane from Route 11 into the Eastern Piscataquis Industrial Park, which Maynard said the MDOT agreed to fund.
    After hearing Maynard’s update on his meeting earlier in the day, the selectmen wondered about why there is been so much change in the scope of work and the availability of funding for various project aspects. Selectman Jerry Brown said Milo had been awarded numerous grants following the arson fire that destroyed a block of the downtown in September 2008 and should have ample funding on the books to carry out most or all of the work along Main Street.
    After voting to move forward on the south side of the street project, Selectman Bob Ade said, “I also make another motion to start investigating where the missing money is from the other grants.”
    In other business, Maynard said a special town meeting would likely be held on Tuesday, June 3. He said during an emergency selectmen’s meeting on April 10, town officials completed final negotiations with Ron and Amy Desmarais of Eastern Maine Shooting Supplies, Inc. and signed a purchase and sales agreement for property at the Eastern Piscataquis Industrial Park.
    According to a new business announcement, which is available at, the total cash price plus additional considerations is nearly $110,000. The plan for the over 3.5-acre property would be for three businesses to move in once renovations are completed over the next six months. Two of the businesses are owned by the Desmaraises and consist of Eastern Maine Shooting Supplies, a computerized machine shop and Mars Machine, a manual machine shop. The third business will be identified at a later time but consists of a fairly large machine shop and welding business.
    The three businesses are expected to employ over 25 within the first year, with growth forecasted for the future. The Desmarais’ auto body shop at 71 Main Street is expected to remain there and will be expanding this summer.
    The Desmaraises have provided a letter of commitment to move forward provided approval is granted at the special town meeting and with grant assistance from the state and federal governments to run various utilities into the park. The letter helps provide assurance that there will be lots ready to be developed by other businesses who may choose to locate to the park — previously the town could not offer sites that were able to be built upon within 90 days.
    “With everything now under way, that will be possible if the grant funds can be secured to complete the job of running all of the utilities to a central point in the business park,” Maynard wrote. “Ron’s letter of commitment may make that possible.
    “In light of the above I recommended to the Milo select board, and do so to the voters of the town of Milo, that the purchase and sales agreement be approved. This is the first time in seven years that any manufacturing business has made this type of commitment to locating, and operating on a long-term basis in our business park. Please welcome and support Ron and Amy Desmarais’ commitment to the town of Milo. We need them every bit as much as they need us. The special town meeting is expected to be held on June 3 at the Milo Town Hall. Please come and support them!”
    Another potential item for June 3 concerns the Land Use Ordinance. On Monday, April 29 at 6 p.m. a public hearing will be held by the selectmen and planning board on the proposed ordinance, followed by a possible approval of any changes to be made and the setting of a warrant for a special town meeting.
    The selectmen met with Cemetery Foreman Robert Hussey who discussed the tractors used to mow at the Evergreen Cemetery. “The two tractors we have there are pro series or homeowner tractors,” he said. “We are mowing 43 acres up there and they hold up good but not as good as they should.
    “I think at this point it is important for us to pick up another tractor. I think we can be a little quicker and do a better job.” Hussey said he conducted research and believes a zero turn, commercial grade Dixie Chopper model would be best suited for the job. He said the cost from Cat Trax in LaGrange would be just under $6,200 after the approximate $1,600 municipal discount.
    “In the trust fund the cash value we had at the end of March was $103,00,” Town Treasurer Robin Larson said about the cemetery account.
    Maynard said he would check with the town attorney to see if the selectmen can authorize the purchase or if a decision needs to be made via a town meeting vote. If citizens’ approval is needed the item could be placed on the June 3 warrant or held earlier to enable the tractor to be used in the spring.

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