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South Thomaston eyes options for Island Road fix

By Stephen Betts | Oct 05, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Island Road in South Thomaston.

South Thomaston — Following a meeting last week with residents, the board of selectmen agreed to direct its engineer to provide alternatives to a proposed improvement to the Island Road.

Selectmen met Oct. 1 in the bay of the fire department to hear concerns from neighbors about the plan that was developed.

Concerns included that the straightening of the road would lead to more speeding, blasting ledge could damage nearby homes and wells, and it would disrupt the character of the neighborhood next summer.

The road project has been in progress for nearly two years.

Residents voted at the annual town meeting for the money to undertake the project, which includes raising the road in sections where it sometimes floods. The project would also include improving the line of sight for drivers and pedestrians, and creating a wider shoulder along the strip used by residents.

At the Oct. 1 meeting, selectmen agreed to suspend any negotiations for 20 days with the owner of Spruce Head Island Lobster Company for a possible swap of land that was planned for road realignment. The talks cannot resume without a vote of the board.

During those 20 days, the board will consider the comments made at the meeting.

Selectmen agreed to ask the engineer working on the project to come up with alternative plans.

The board's action comes after the town received a letter signed by 13 property owners that said they "find that the board is not only seeking to provide sea-level rise road improvements, but is promoting a project that proposes to re-design the working and efficient intersection at Village Way, and straighten Island Road between Seal Cove Road and the Island Bridge, to calamitous effects."

The letter was signed by Sarah Bullitt, Lynne Fancher Canavan and Gerry Canavan, Marc Draleau and Christine Flaherty, Gene and Susan Goodman, Kevin Gordon, Chad Harris, Janine York Heath, Adrian and Pam Hooydonk, Jim McDonald and Julia O’Brien.

The town was notified July 2019 it would receive a $330,000 grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission's state economic and infrastructure program for the project. It requires matching money from the town.

Town Administrator Owen Casas said this was a priority for the community, pointing out that the Spruce Head Island Road is the only one that connects Spruce Head Island to the mainland.

The money will reconstruct about 800 feet of the road.

The island is home to Atwood Lobster Co. and the Spruce Head Fishermen's Cooperative. In total, 114 jobs and $16 million in goods are processed at facilities on the island.

Casas said the project is planned for next spring, and should be completed in a month, but could take as long as two months. He said the changes will improve sight lines and improve safety for pedestrians.

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