Boothbay selectmen seek more feedback about broadband access

Board tables seeking RFP until hearing from Sewall Co. rep
Fri, 07/12/2019 - 8:45am

Boothbay selectmen want another perspective before seeking a request for proposals to expand and broaden the region’s internet accessibility. The board voted 4-0 to table using Maine Community Foundation grant money to hire a consultant to write an RFP. Selectman Kristina Ford recommended hiring Tom Myette, owner of OmniHelios, LLC of Boothbay Harbor to write the proposal. 

In March, Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor officials contracted with Myette to survey broadband internet accessibility.  Myette received $2,000 for his 40-hour survey of business and residential broadband internet accessibility. Ford believed Myette’s familiarity with the topic made him an ideal person for writing an RFP for the project’s next phase. But Selectman Mike Tomacelli suggested a different route. 

He wanted to hear from James W. Sewall Co. consultant Brian Lippold. Lippold is the Old Town firm’s director of broadband and telecom consulting. Tomacelli described the Sewall Co. as specializing in municipalities’ broadband internet needs. For two years, the board had discussed hearing from a Sewall representative. So prior to seeking RFPs, Tomacelli thought it was time to hear from the company.

“I think we owe it to us and the community to talk to other people who are involved with this. Their business is helping other towns dealing with the same problem we are,” he said.  Selectmen directed Town Manager Dan Bryer to schedule a meeting with Lippold at a future meeting. 

Boothbay Common landscaping plans

In other action, selectmen voted 4-0 to accept the landscape committee’s Boothbay Common fall project recommendation. This spring, selectmen charged the committee with developing a plan for restoring the Common’s “historical look.” The committee presented selectmen with its 12-point restoration plan. 

The proposal calls for common trees to be pruned and a mulch ring around each one.  The Common will have a “pitch plot” to help build a grading pan. The Common will have three catch basins installed with 2-foot by 2-foot steel grate near the tree line. Irrigation with piping 18 feet to 24 feet will be provided to the town.

Curbing will extend around the Common with two curb cuts for drive-in entry and a tip down for a walk-in entry. Rocks on the Common will be removed. The drive-in entry will be a finely textured, hard gravel composite product. On the south end, a green concrete pad will be added for barbecue use. The entire common will be sodded.

The gazebo will be cleaned, edged and mulched. The committee has contracted with Farley Inc. of Rockport as project contractor. Farley will plant four sugar maple trees to fill gaps in the Common’s perimeter. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is paying for these trees. 

An anonymous donor is paying for the project. The project is slated to begin in September and take four weeks. The renovation project will not cost any taxpayer money, but the town will assume future maintenance costs. 

Selectmen were invited to the Knickerbocker Lake Association’s annual meeting on July 30. Association president Paula Arsenault reported the annual meeting includes a documentary film focused on “the critical nature of protecting our public water supply.” Matt Scott, an aquatic biologist, and Maggie Shannon, Lake Smart program director, are the featured speakers. The meeting is scheduled for 3 to 5:30 p.m. at the Harbor Theatre.

“The vital importance of accessible fresh water in a salt water region experiencing growth and development is a tremendous challenge. We feel strongly the health and well-being of our lakes is a community-wide concern. Failure to be proactive could cost our towns millions from emergency treatment to having to ship water here. There is so much to do and learn about this topic,” Arsenault said.  

Selectmen meet next at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24 in the municipal building’s conference room.