Town of Boothbay Harbor

Sidewalk study, broadband report dominate selectmen’s agenda

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 8:00am

    Baker Design Consultants gave an Atlantic Avenue sidewalk feasibility study presentation for selectmen Sept. 23. Senior Project Manager Travis Pryor showed maps and graphics outlining a project which would bring a sidewalk down Atlantic from the footbridge to the end of Fishermen's Memorial. The cost would be in the range of $300,000 to $350,000, including land acquisition, Pryor said.

    “Sometimes (these projects) take years and funding changes, so we wanted to look at what is practical before you start doing some of that budgeting. This is the first step in the design process ... It takes so many months to work through design, so many months to get funding together and so on.”

    Pryor has met with abutters and business owners on Atlantic Avenue and said there were no serious concerns that would endanger the project. Selectman Denise Griffin said it seems like major business owners are almost all for the project as it will help with public safety.

    Pryor said the study will be reliable for next steps, including a request for a proposal. This will give more solid numbers on cost and duration for either a one-time, large project or a piecemeal project. Immediate steps could include beginning negotiations with abutters for land, though the board should not rely on the feasibility study to determine any final grading needed for driveways.

    “We've already had preliminary talks with the town attorney and the actual cost of obtaining the property is minimal because of the way that the state (calculates worth),” said Griffin.

    The board charged Baker Consultants with inquiring about future utilities projects along Atlantic Avenue so construction can be handled in tandem or in anticipation. That update will come in one to two weeks, Pryor said.

    Broadband

    Vice Chair Tricia Warren said the Broadband Committee met for the first time last week and decided it would likely be best to expend the rest of the Maine Community Foundation grant money awarded to Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor by pursuing an inventory of all the region's broadband. Warren said the proposal came from Casco Bay Advisors of Brunswick and the project would come out to a combined $18,000 for both towns.

    Between the $5,500 in remaining MCF grant money and $5,250 in funds from the Joint Economic Development Committee  to each community, Warren said the inventory would cost the towns nothing.

    “Having this inventory will help us with future grants we will apply for for this joint venture,” said Warren.

    Selectmen moved and seconded accepting JEDC funds and expenditure of grant money for Casco Bay Advisors to fulfill the inventory project. Before voting, Boothbay Selectman Kristina Ford brought forward a timeline summary of broadband initiatives since taking the issue on.

    “I thought it might be useful because I think the committee met without realizing some of the things that have gone on in the past,” said Ford.

    One of the reasons for the MCF grant was to dig for innovative solutions rather than spread grant funds across the state, said Ford, and after seeing how other communities have responded, particularly by unhelpful surveys, Ford said she confided in Boothbay Town Manager Dan Bryer that she does not want to do what other towns are doing.

    “What we came up with is 'Let's try to figure out what the deal is, here,' warned by the commentary: ... 'Don't let the providers tell you what you need. You figure out what you need.'”

    It turns out the peninsula is over-provided, Ford said, but the problem is a lack of competition. So, Ford and Bryer, at the suggestion of hired consultant Tom Myette, suggested the two towns may want to consider spending the remaining grant money on a request for a proposal for anyone who will answer.

    Griffin said a JEDC workshop a few weeks ago left an understanding that an inventory would be the logical next step.

    “We may not need everything that this Casco Bay group was suggesting, but … I'm hearing that our Broadband Committee all felt unanimously that we should proceed this way.”

    Selectmen approved the motion unanimously and approved a second motion to use  $5,250 of JEDC money toward hiring Casco Bay Advisors.

    New Hope for Women

    New Hope for Women community advocate Mary Hanley addressed the board on Domestic Violence Awareness Month. NHFW offers support to people in Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Knox and Waldo counties affected by domestic and/or dating violence and stalking, said Hanley. NHFW also provides educational resources to businesses, nonprofits and other entities to help create and maintain a safer place for everyone.

    For October, many of NHFW’s community supporters will be displaying purple lights in support of those who suffer or have suffered from domestic violence. Hanley welcomed  everyone to do the same: “The more lights the better.”

    Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library will be holding “Empty Place at the Table” from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 23 and many will be observing Domestic Violence Awareness Day which falls on Oct. 24.

    Announcements

    Latter said public works has torn up the sidewalk on Emery Lane and paving will have started this week. Public works has also repaired the seawall at Barrett's Park, said Latter.

    Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor boards of selectmen will meet at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26 in the Boothbay Harbor town office meeting room. The boards are meeting to discuss the future of the Joint Economic Development Committee.

    Selectmen voted unanimously to hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Oct. 3 for language changes to the new east side ordinances. The board expects the town vote to appear on the November ballot.

    Selectmen meet next at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15 in the town meeting room.

    This article has been updated from its original posting.