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Where the sidewalk ends in Union

Board also discusses holiday event plans, COVID-19 updates
By Christine Simmonds | Nov 18, 2020
Photo by: Christine Simmonds Union town office.

Union — 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

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Comments (4)
Posted by: STEPHANIE TURNER | Nov 21, 2020 07:55

”Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive” C Meyers & P Meyers

Shame belongs in your lap.  You cost Union $82k tax $ with your tantrums & on going misinformation for 3 years.  You distorted the facts.  You threw Union under the bus for your personal vendettas against town Mgr and Greg Grotton.  Let’s not forget your driveway you put in which you actually told Jim and I yourself was the real reason!  Shame on you for not paying residence and car registration for over 10 years!  That is deplorable as we all know how long you live in Maine every year before heading to South Carolina.  This time you don’t get away with finger pointing blaming others for Unions losses .  Shame shame shame


Posted by: Gregory S Grotton | Nov 19, 2020 13:03

I wasn't going to reply to Catherine's comments but if it's "childish" to abide by the law and be honest then we need to get Webster to correct his dictionary. Residing in the state of Maine I believe the law is at least 183 days a year requires you to become residence of the state and therefore pay state income taxes. This was avoided for well over 10 years until just recently being contacted by the state to register, on top of that keeping your vehicle registered in SC you are again breaking the law...excise tax from the registering your vehicle goes helps with the cost of the road that YOU drive on. I hope this message with open some eyes of other "snowbirds".

Posted by: Catherine L Meyer | Nov 18, 2020 13:37

No Greg you are WAY off base. Your failure to get re-elected and the down vote on the walkway was due to Your boards failure to bring the project to the taxpayers first.

Your responsibility was to the citizens and not your selfish agenda,

With the exception of one home on the East side of Depot who worked for the town no one wanted the walkway.

You should be ashamed that you spend over $83k of taxpayers funds without their approval after they asked you to halt the project last November 2019 which you refused. Wonder if there is any liability here?

Lastly turning our out of state license plates to the sheriff was rather childish but not unexpected.

Posted by: Gregory S Grotton | Nov 18, 2020 12:50

$482,000 +/- down the tubes for an additional $20,000 +/-...I won't mention the one that started it all to save a driveway. Oh well.


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