ROCKLAND — The City Council will discuss Wednesday evening, July 6, whether to place bond referendums out to voters in November to borrow money for roads, the landfill closure, and the Flanagan Community Center.

The Council meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall at 270 Pleasant St.

Road work

The most expensive bond would be one to ask voters to approve borrowing $10 million to $15 million for road repairs, reconstruction, and resurfacing.

The city manager said an exact number was not yet available but would be by the Wednesday meeting.

Public services maintains a list of roads that needs repairs. The condition of roads is one of the most common complaints raised by residents about municipal services.

The most recent road improvement bond referendum in the city was in November 2016 when voters approved borrowing $2.7 million on a 2,575-845 tally. The City Council, however, held off borrowing the money until 2018 to allow other existing bonds to be paid off.

Landfill closure

In May, City Manager Tom Luttrell said the city would need to borrow up to $1.8 million to close the quarry landfill that has been used by the community for nearly a century. The current estimate is $1.8 million to $2 million.

City Manager Tom Luttrell said the closure would begin in spring 2023 if voters approve the money.

The money would go for installing a pump system that will keep the water level low enough in the quarry so water in it does not flow outside the quarry. The city will have to monitor water quality around the landfill in perpetuity. There will also be a system of pipes installed to collect and vent off the methane created from the decay of the tons of material dumped in the quarry. There would also be cover material placed on top.

The quarry to be covered runs from Limerock Street to the former recycling building.

The city has $2.7 million in its landfill closure reserve account, the city manager said. The estimated cost of closure was $3.2 million last year which increased to $3.8 million this year. The manager said when the work begins, it is realistic to expect the cost could rise to $4.5 million.

Flanagan Community Center

The estimated range of money needed for repairs to the Flanagan Community Center is $500,000 to $1 million.

Water leaking into the 87-year-old building has resulted in significant damage inside and outbreaks of mold, Recreation Director Donald Prescott told City Councilors May 24 at a budget review meeting.

Prescott said until exterior work is done — at an estimated cost of $261,000 not including roof work — expanded programs are not possible in the building.

“It’s crumbling right in front of us,” Prescott said in May.

Councilors questioned whether it made sense to put more money into the building instead of looking at constructing a new recreation center.

“Should we be throwing more money at this building?” Councilor Louise MacLellan-Ruf asked at that May meeting. “As taxpayers, should we be looking at a new building?”

In November 2011, Rockland residents voted 1,107-656 to borrow up to $675,000 for improvements to the recreation center that resulted in the repointing of all the exterior bricks and work along the edges of the roof to prevent leaking. There was also a trench dug around the exterior of the building to apply sealant to the foundation and to install proper drainage to prevent water intrusion from the lower level. The game room was also torn up and received a new slab and then a new wooden floor to stop moisture from coming into that section of the building.

That work was done in 2012 with the city reporting after the building was “bone dry.”

The 2012 work followed $661,000 in renovations in 2009 and 2010 that resulted in the center being closed for eight months. That work consisted of installation of a new gym floor, new retractable bleachers, new locker rooms constructed in the space previously occupied by a racquetball court, installation of a sprinkler system, a new boiler and replacement of an underground oil tank.

There has been nearly $20,000 spent since then on various roof repairs.

The current water problems in the building are the same that were reported prior to the 2012 work including water leaking in through the upper level space used by the Rockland District Nursing Association and then leaking down to the basement level where the youth game room is located.

The building was constructed in 1935 through the Works Progress Administration which was a federal program created during the Great Depression to put people to work.

MacLellan-Ruf said the building is not sound from an architectural standpoint and pointed out one flaw is the flat roof that allows water to pond and then leak inside.

The Rockland landfill off Limerock Street. Photo by Stephen Betts

The Flanagan Community Center. Photo by Stephen Betts