The Union Board of Selectmen voted to withdraw from the sidewalk grant following the Nov. 3 election, where citizens voted the project down. The board vote occurred at its Nov. 17 meeting, held over Zoom.

The sidewalk project had been in the works since 2017, but in the past year generated controversy from locals on both sides of the issue. The final vote was 668 in favor and 891 against.

The board held an official vote so Town Manager Jay Feyler could send a formal letter to the Maine Department of Transportation withdrawing from the project.

Board member Bill Lombardi said he wanted it to be public record on how much the town will owe due to voting this project down.

An email from Aurele Gorneauii of the Maine Department of Transportation states the town may owe more than $82,000 for the work done so far on the sidewalk.

Feyler said MDOT would be able to tell them the full amount once they receive the letter withdrawing from the project.

A grant from MDOT would have covered $400,000 of the project had it been completed.

Board member Adam Fuller suggested adding the amount to the minutes of the next board meeting to ensure they were part of the public record.

In other business, Erik Amundsen spoke during public comment that he was unable to find contact information for the Planning Board on the Union website. Amundsen added it would be great if the website at least listed the Chairman’s phone number.

Board Chairman John Shepard agreed it would be helpful.

Feyler later addressed the topic during his town manager report, however, and recommended that board members do not list their phone numbers on the website. “People are downright nasty these days,” he said, and appear to have no problem with calling late at night.

Feyler instead suggested people contact the town office, and employees there would pass the message to the correct person.

Fuller took the idea a step further and recommended this information be added to each committee page on the town website, and that it should be included with the new Union website as well.

The board approved the closure of Burkett Road for the annual Christmas in the Country event. This year, the event includes drive-through cookie delivery.

Board member Martha Johnston-Nash said the event will include a tree lighting and Christmas carols. Those in attendance are asked to stay in their cars to view the tree and listen to the songs due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Johnston-Nash said the cookies will be made and handed out according to COVID-19 guidelines as well.

Christmas in the Country will be held Sunday, Dec. 6, at 6:30 p.m. on the Union Common. Anyone interested in volunteering to set up the event can arrive at 9 a.m. at the Union Common Nov. 28.

During the COVID-19 update, Feyler warned the board that several municipal offices in the state had to close, and there is a possibility the Union office may have to close at some point. “It’s going to continue; it’s going to get worse,” Feyler said of the virus.

Feyler has worked with Jesse Thompson of the Union Emergency Medical Services to create a plan for if someone in the town office tests positive for the virus.

Through the Maine Healthy Grant, Union has already given out $20,000 of protective equipment and hand sanitizer to businesses and residents.

Fuller said he has been in other municipal offices around the state, and he was very proud of the precautions Union’s town office has in place since the start of the pandemic. “I feel like we are light-years ahead of some of those places,” he said.

Fuller added he was very thankful for the work of Thompson and other EMS workers in Union.

Fuller shared that the first Broadband Committee meeting was held Nov. 16. “I feel like we had a good first meeting,” he said. The committee has come up with a structure and goals regarding what they want to accomplish.

Fuller said he would keep the board updated as the committee moved forward.

The board scheduled a second road workshop to be held Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. on Zoom.

Board member Josh White discussed the Food Ordinance committee, and Feyler said he could set up Zoom meetings for the committee.

Resident Jim Justice told the board about upcoming classes on farms and food safety that will be held on Zoom through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Justice said he would give the registration information to Feyler at the town office.

The online classes will cost $20, and Feyler said the town would cover the costs for Food Ordinance Committee members with training funds in the town budget.

For more information on a committee, or to receive an invitation to the next Board of Selectmen meeting, contact Feyler at townmanager@union.maine.gov.