Police & Fire

Funding sought for Spruce Street housing project water/sewer extensions

GREENVILLE — The Greenville Select Board authorized Town Manager Mike Roy to sign a letter of intent for a grant application that would provide funding from the Northern Region Border Commission to extend the Spruce Street water and sewer lines to aid a Spruce Street housing project.

During an April 19 select meeting, Northern Forest Center Senior Program Director Mike Wilson joined via Zoom to make the request. He said the organization has been working with the town, Moosehead Lake Region Economic Development Corp., and Northern Light CA Dean Hospital to bring middle-income housing to the community, on about 5 acres on Spruce Street off Pritham Avenue, to help remedy the housing issues near Moosehead Lake.

As is the case in much of Maine, Greenville in recent years has been experiencing a lack of available middle-income housing. Many homes put on the market are quickly purchased to serve as Airbnbs or second homes, and lower-income housing has strict residency requirements that precludes young workers from living there.

The Northern Forest Center has worked on the purchase of homes that have been turned into affordable rental units in Millinocket and Lancaster, New Hampshire. 

“One of the challenges with the development on Spruce Street is the fact that sewer and water infrastructure comes just a little ways up the property,” Wilson said. “It stops around the corner of the vacant space.”

He said there is a funding opportunity through the Northern Region Border Commission, but the town would be a more appropriate applicant than the Northern Forest Center. Wilson said the letter of intent deadline is Friday, April 21, and if accepted then the town would be invited to submit a full proposal by June 2. 

There is no obligation for Greenville, but “if we don’t put in a letter of internet there is no opportunity to put in a full proposal,” Wilson said. 

“This creates an opportunity, it doesn’t bring an obligation with it,” he added.

“It’s a great opportunity, this is an important piece of this workforce housing,” Roy said.

The letter of intent includes preliminary line extension estimates. For 10 units this would be $180,000 for the water line, $100,000 for sewer, $150,000 for road repair, and a $430,000 total.

Wilson said he has checked with the Moosehead Sanitary District, which would take over line ownership, and decisions would be voted on the district board of directors

“The idea would be to do this extension at no cost to the sewer district,” he said.

Moosehead Lake Region Economic Development Corp. President Margarita Contreni said the organization’s board of directors “is absolutely 100 percent behind this development.”

She said a week and half prior a public forum enabled residents and business owners to speak on the matter. “The demand for workforce housing is really needed by all of them,” Contreni said.

In other business, the select board agreed to a loan arrangement for a groomer on behalf of the Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Club. Similar agreements have been made in the past.

The club is looking to add a 2014 model to its fleet. After a $61,000 Maine Snowmobile Association grant, $101,000 would be borrowed from Androscoggin Bank and paid off over 10 years at $13,000-plus annually. 

“It’s essentially a 10-year lease the club will be paying for, so no cost to the town at all,” Roy said.

The board also agreed by consensus to grant a request by Scott Patrick to use the Junction Wharf for water access for the barge transportation business he is looking to get started. 

“I need a place to load and unload, and I’m not asking to leave anything on the Junction Wharf property other than a couple of hours to load and unload, perhaps on the secondary ramp,” Patrick said. He said he realizes the importance of the site for Moosehead Lake, so he said he would not block lanes and be as low impact as possible.

“The barge is 8,000-pound capacity, it’s not much bigger than a normal float boat or party boat,” Patrick said.

Select Chair Geno Murray said in the past concerns about businesses using the Junction Wharf have been brought to the town. He said after checking with legal counsel, since it is public property town officials are limited in making any restrictions on use. 

In his town manager’s report, Roy said cement for the new public safety building was set to be poured on April 21. He said four or five tractor trailer loads of steel are set to be shipped on June 5 with arrival about 10 days later.

“It’s all fenced in and locked,” he said about the site across from the town office.

Information and pictures on the projects are on the town website and Facebook page so residents can follow the progress.

The public safety building will house both the fire and police departments to help with outdated spaces and building code violations.

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