Greenville can work with EMDC on climate-related grants

GREENVILLE — The town of Greenville now has the opportunity to seek state funding from a $4.75 million pool earmarked for projects to help mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Town officials learned more from Eastern Maine Development Corporation Community Resilience Specialist Laurie Osher during a Nov. 16 meeting.

Osher mentioned her title is a new term and part of ongoing EMDC efforts to provide integrated services that boost businesses, communities, and individuals in its coverage area to accelerate economic development and strengthen the economy. 

She gave an example of towns needing to buy more road salt as, with warmer temperatures, snow will melt and then refreeze into ice instead of remaining as the light, fluffy substance that first fell. Funds are available that can be used toward the additional surface treatment substance.

“My job is to help you get access to that money,” Osher said. She said $4.75 million is part of the “Maine Won’t Wait” state action program to address climate change, and there are no matching requirements for awarded community action grants.

Funding categories include engaging and educating community members, weatherizing existing buildings, supporting sustainable construction, protecting public health, installing heat pumps and LED lighting, protecting and conserving land and water, supporting and installing renewable energy projects, and managing flood risks. Municipalities can apply for grants every six months.

Osher said Dover-Foxcroft has received funding for the development of an extreme temperature emergency plan and for heating and cooling shelters. Bangor has monies for EV chargers and for vulnerability assessments and a climate action plan, and Limestone has a grant for portable solar generators. 

In order to apply, towns must first join EMDC in a community resilience partnership. To do this a workshop will help determine priorities, via survey information. Community assessments will be determined, and the town must also pass a resolution declaring interest and agreeing to become a partnership member.

Towns can receive additional funding, for a total of up to $125,000, through collaboration with other communities. Osher said she spoke with the Shirley Select Board earlier that evening and ideally projects in the Moosehead Lake region would benefit Greenville, Shirley, Beaver Cove, and nearby Unorganized Territories. Applications are due by March 22, 2023.

Moosehead Lake Region Economic Development Corporation Vice President Margarita Contreni said the organization would help cover logistics and costs for having a workshop. The workshop would need to be held at least a month prior to the application.

“I think January is best because it gives us time to collect information and organize it,” Osher said.

She said Town Manager Mike Roy has some ideas for Greenville including LED lighting at the forthcoming public safety building and warming shelters. 

Select Chairperson Geno Murray said the board would likely have a related agenda item on its next agenda for Wednesday, Dec. 7. “We have an obligation to the community to help offset any expenses,” he said about seeking any and all funding sources to benefit the municipality.

In other business, the board approved a municipal lease purchase through Androscoggin Bank for a new public works truck.

Roy said with interest rates increasing he wanted the board to lock in now. “It’s a straight forward lease,” he said with a rate of 4.97 percent over the next four years.

After a $100,000 down payment, the costs for the truck, plow, and other accessories would be $175,000 before financing. The first payment of $49,322 would be due in late 2023 and after four years, the town would own the truck.

The new truck would replace a 2001 model that has visible rust and has been experiencing issues with sand spreading. “I think it’s money well spent for assurance,” Roy said.

In his report, Roy mentioned several items including saying he has received a draft of the 2023 Piscataquis County budget.

Murray said the select board would review the financials prior to the annual public hearing on the proposed county and 2023-24 UT budgets, set for 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 28 at the Piscataquis County Commissioners’ chambers on the county campus in Dover-Foxcroft.

“We have received the banners for the Deck the Halls Committee,” Roy said. “Weather permitting public works will be installed before Thanksgiving.”

Last month the select board gave its approval to purchase 25 decorative banners. The double-sided green and red banners saying “Happy Holidays” will be in place for the annual Deck the Halls celebration hosted by Destination Moosehead Lake starting on Saturday, Nov. 26, and remain up for the ensuing month.

Roy asked residents and business owners to be patient with snow cleanup as public works is currently at only two employees — the town is trying to fill a vacancy. He said people may see other employees behind the wheel, “For instance I was in a plow truck today.”

“It will get cleaned up eventually, sidewalks may not be as quick as it has been,” he said, mentioning the roads are a greater priority.

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