THOMASTON — Thomaston Town Manager Kara George denied requests for an interview concerning the town’s potential new bypass highway project Sept. 17, and said all requests for information must come through her office, not members of the Select Board.

Her email to The Courier-Gazette, the Select Board and town attorney came in response to the newspaper’s Freedom of Access Act request for documents concerning the new highway project.

“I am requesting that any future inquiries for information from VillageSoup that is outside of public meetings are streamlined through my office and not individual Select Board members,” George said.

“I did not receive your request until Thursday, as I was out of the office on Wednesday. Then, I find out that an article was posted publicly Wednesday afternoon. According to FOAA state laws, I have five business days to respond to a request whether it is an official written request, an email or a phone call. I do not intend nor will I ever disclose information that is conducted in an executive session. As such, I respectfully decline your request for an interview at this time. When the Town of Thomaston has information that is public, we will be happy to discuss this further with you at that time.”

As part of the request for information, we asked for a map of the proposed highway project. George said in her email that there is no such map, and there have been no invoices or letters with Dirigo Engineering concerning the potential project other than a proposal document, which she provided.

“It is our understanding that the Town of Thomaston is interested in evaluating the feasibility of developing an east-west road located to the north of the village area,” Timothy Sawtelle of Dirigo wrote July 15 in a proposal to Pollution Control Superintendent John Fancy.

“The road should connect with US Route 1 on the west side of Thomaston in the vicinity of the Toll Bridge Road and extend to Old County Road toward Dexter Street.”

Old County Road by Dexter Street is one end of the proposed Thomaston bypass highway.

In the proposal the firm outlines what it could do for the town to determine the feasibility of the project including evaluating possible routes in terms of environmental impacts, and impact on property owners.

Part of the process would be determining what properties could be affected by the project, though the firm said it would not be involved in the property surveys, valuations or acquisition under the current proposal.

Route 1 near Toll Bridge Road is the other end of the proposed new Thomaston highway. Googlemaps

The Select Board voted 4-0 on June 28 to authorize the town manager to contract with Dirigo Engineering for a feasibility study for an east-west highway, north of the village, with costs not to exceed $20,000.

The Select Board held a closed-door meeting with the engineering firm about the potential project Sept. 13. The item on the agenda states: “to discuss or consider the acquisition or the use of real or personal property with Dirigo Engineering.”

They are planning another closed-door meeting for Sept. 20. The meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. in the municipal building (former Lura Libby School).

The agenda for this meeting listed MRS Title 1 405 (6C) as the reason for the closed-door executive session.

This law states a board may hold closed-door executive sessions for deliberations including “discussion or consideration of the condition, acquisition or the use of real or personal property… only if premature disclosures of the information would prejudice the competitive or bargaining position of the body or agency.”

During the July discussion, resident and Planning Board Chair Joanne Richards expressed concerns about the road crossing her backyard.

Additional reporting by Christine Simmonds.