Safe Streets project goes out to bid

By Stuart Hedstrom 
Staff Writer
MILO — The Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) Main Street Safe Streets project will be going out to bid May 15 following a special town meeting on May 7. The article approved at the meeting includes

a total funding amount of $512,000, with additional monies pending as needed to complete the project and none of which will be from local property tax dollars.
    “At this point the project is fully designed and ready to go out to bid,” Town Manager David Maynard said. “However there has been many changes since that first public hearing.” He explained the initial grant funding for the downtown improvements was awarded in July of 2009 and accompanying paperwork was signed in late May 2011.
    Maynard said a total of $425,000, consisting of over $311,000 from the U.S. DOT and the remainder from MDOT local assistance and a town CDBG grant, was first earmarked for the project. Another $87,000 was added — $60,000 from the MDOT for Elm and Main intersection work and $27,000 from the MDOT for drainage work near the NAPA Auto Parts — to bring the revised total up to $512,000 to go out to bid.
    May 15 is the target work for the project to go to bid, with bids scheduled to be opened on June 3 and the targeted start date 12 days later with the end of August anticipated as a completion date. “The intention is to have all of the construction done and out of the way by the time school starts,” Maynard said.
    He said the project will include making the West Main and Elm streets intersection wide enough for tractor trailers to turn safely, leaving as many parking spaces as possible, granite curbing and concrete sidewalks on both sides of the travel ways, decorative lighting on the west side with underground wiring as well as trees on the same side of the street.
    “At this point in time the state came back and said $512,000 should be able to do it,” Maynard said. “There is no intention to take any of it from local taxpayer dollars,” he added as the MDOT commissioner said the agency would be willing to put up additional monies if needed.
    “I will be walking through those two buildings later in the month with a representative from an investment group to see if they are worth fixing up,” Maynard said about two older structures located next to the Main Street Safe Streets project. He also said a paving project for Route 11 is scheduled for 2014. Paving is needed from the West Main Street bridge north to the Brownville town line, and Maynard said he asked for a guarantee for the resurfacing to go at least as far as the railroad tracks on Route 11.
    Another article at the May 7 special town meeting concerned the Eastern Piscataquis Industrial Park. Residents gave their approval to a pair of EDI grants from 2008 to be used for various projects already completed at or in conjunction with the park, including building a proposed access road and improving an intersection. The town can also accept any additional funding provided by the MDOT or other sources for work at the park, which Maynard said would be converted from an industrial park to a business park, as long as no local property tax dollars are used.
    “The reason we are doing this is we never accepted the funds,” Maynard said as the combined $544,500 in grants was not formally approved at a town meeting when awarded in early 2008. He explained the grant monies can be used to cover any infrastructure costs for the site, with bids for the access road and intersection work expected to be received at the end of the month with the bid awarded in mid-June and the construction taking place from early July to early August.
    Maynard said a special town meeting will likely be held on June 3 concerning a purchase and sales agreement with Ron and Amy Desmarais of Eastern Maine Shooting Supplies, Inc. for property at the Eastern Piscataquis Industrial Park, and the road and intersection will help provide access to the Desmarais’ site as well as future establishments in the park.
    “We do need to do a new subdivision plan and plan for a boring study,” Maynard said as the study will show what lies beneath the park surface. He said the subdivision plan will help divide the park up into lots for businesses and “the goal is to get an additional six lots ready for new construction in the business park.”
    “Even if this goes forward we are still about $1 million short of what is needed to simply put businesses in the park,” Maynard said. “There is a laundry list of things the money can be used for,” he said about any funds left over from the EDI grants which can be expended now that approval was granted.
    At the special town meeting citizens also approved the purchase of a mower for the Evergreen Cemetery and the financing of $26,000 for a new police cruiser. An amount of up to $6,500 was OKed for a zero turn Dixie Chopper commercial model lawn mower from Cat Trax in LaGrange. The purchase was made to provide a mower to complement two aging tractors currently used at the cemetery, and will be paid for with an appropriation from cemetery trust fund earnings.
    The police cruiser purchase was approved at the annual town meeting in March as part of the 2013-14 fiscal year budget. The town is seeking to finance a new vehicle, rather than purchasing one outright, to keep money in the fund balance in the event of an accident that destroys one of the other cruisers. The intention is to have saved up enough money to make a future purchase in several years when the time comes for another new police vehicle.
    During a selectmen’s meeting that followed the special town meeting, officials gave the go-ahead to use a small portion of the EDI grants for the boring study at the business park. Maynard explained that SW Cole Engineering will shoot pipe into over a dozen holes on the property, each about 10 feet deep, and then inspect the material in the pipes to provide an analysis of the soil.
    “When clients come into the park they are asking, consistently, ‘what is in the ground?’ This will give an answer to that,” Maynard said. “They expect to be in the field May 14-15, and they will report back at the end of May.”
    The estimated price for the boring study will be $7,600, with another $700 cost for CES Engineering to conduct the GPS readings needed for SW Cole Engineering to carry out the borings. CES will also redo the park subdivision plan for about $2,500.
    “That is what has to be done before we can sign the deed with Ron Desmarais on the 3rd,” Maynard said. He said the subdivision plan leaves lots nearest to Park Street as is, with parcels further back being reconfigured to allow for smaller businesses and for Desmarais.

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