Thomaston to seek rural development funding
Thomaston — Thomaston selectmen voted 4-0 to authorize the town manager and pollution control director to apply for funding for work on its clean water and sewer lines that needs to be completed prior to the beginning of two rebuilding projects.
Maine Department of Transportation plans to rebuild Thomaston Main Street beginning in March 2015. The project is expected to take two years.
"The problem being, the town has old sewer lines running down the middle of the street," said John Fancy, pollution control director, during a presentation to the board Jan. 13.
Fancy said the MDOT plans to remove the concrete covering the road by bashing it out and reinforcing it with asphalt.
"It is doubtful the 100-year-old sewer will survive that," explained Fancy.
Even though the sewer is only being used as a clean water drain for sump pumps and cellar drains, Fancy outlined three sections on the east end of town that have old sewer underneath. He is proposing to lay a new line north of the road.
"The good thing is we can put the new line directly where the new sanitary is," said Fancy, adding the other good thing is the new sanitary sewers were put on the sides of the road — instead of down the middle. This will decrease the amount of work necessary for the project.
Another project involving sanitation is bridge work to start this fall. The bridge across the St. George River going into Cushing is scheduled to be moved up river, according to Fancy.
"The sanitary line hangs on the downriver side of the bridge," said Fancy, adding the fix is to hook the line under the new bridge and across.
The two projects are estimated at roughly $1.6 million.
Fancy said the town needs to make a formal application, and believes it can reap 25-30 percent of the money through a grant. That means borrowing a little more than $900,000 for the rest of the project.
Rural Development does stipulate the borrowed funds must be paid back by the users and not through taxes. The town has 930 customers who utilize the sanitation system. The amount that will be added on to their current fees will be around $60 per customer per year to cover the costs.
Selectman Peter Lammert expressed concern over verbiage in the contract that states there can be no cuts along Route 1 for five years following project completion.
"I'm just trying to be proactive," said Lammert, adding "maybe we should put some dummy lines in for unknown expansions that may occur."
Fancy said there are ample lines in place and "we can tunnel under the road if we had to."
Route 1 will be under construction starting at the bridge between Warren and Thomaston and extend to Route 131. Traffic along that Route 1 stretch is planned to be down to one lane.
The board also voted unanimously to approve the annual septic wastes contract with Interstate Septic Systems, Inc. despite a recent change in billing.
Fancy explained that his department has paid the annual $2,300 fee for the town for the last 15 years, plus $85 a load to have any septic tanks pumped and hauled to Interstate.
That was done because the department was being subsidized $150,000 from the town. However, that has been cut to $50,000 and therefore the pumping fees are to be paid by the landowners.
"Municipalities are required by law to have someone to pump and haul waste," said Fancy, adding Interstate is the best around to do that.
Signs in place
The board approved placement of crosswalk signs to mark the pedestrian crossing in front of Thomaston Grocery. The signs had remained down following the redesign of the drive along the side of the store, in anticipation of the upcoming Main Street project.
"That is a dangerous crossing," said Police Chief Kevin Haj.
The board seeks to have the signs in place within six weeks.
Deliberation on municipal signs and effective ordinances resulted in the board tabling the non-agenda item to discuss options at a later date.
Public hearing set
A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 22 to discuss Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding's application for a Workforce Development Block Grant. The company is seeking a grant of $75,000 to expand its existing company and provide training for entry level boatbuilders to become entry level CMC operators with the addition of new machinery.
The hearing will take place at 6 p.m. in the Town Office Conference Room.
Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at email@example.com.
594-4401 ext. 125
Beth rejoined Courier Publications' news staff in February 2013. She previously worked at The Courier-Gazette from 1981 to 1990.
Her coverage area includes Warren, Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Washington, and Thomaston and RSU40.
Beth has a passion for photography, and a degree from the University of Maine at Augusta, in affiliation with the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport.
Aside from photography, Beth enjoys running and walks along the waterfront, as well as other outdoor activities. She has a daughter, Claire, who is 15.