$4M in public construction projects planned in SWH

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — In the next year, the town has about $4 million in construction projects slated to be completed.

One project, renovations at the century-old pumping station on Long Pond, is initially being funded by the Water and Sewer District. A request will go before voters either this fall or next spring to ask taxpayers to contribute to paying back the half-million dollar bond.

Most of the construction projects, which include a new garage at the public works campus, replacing infrastructure and repaving roads throughout town, pumping station renovations and the Main Street sidewalk project, have been in the works for several years.

Main Street sidewalks

Nearly three years after voters agreed to expend about $800,000 on sidewalk improvement, the project is moving forward with a total price tag of $1.3 million. That price includes a contingency fund, inspection and design costs as well as the Department of Transportation’s right-of-way costs.

Actual construction for the project is expected to cost $1.1 million, with the town to contribute $826,500 of that total. Nearly $500,000 in grant funding towards that total has been awarded to the town by the state Maine Department of Transportation’s pedestrian, bicycle safety and municipal partnership initiative programs.

Emera is currently working on the utility poles that will be included in this project, according to Town Manager Justin VanDongen.

Construction is expected to begin next spring on the project that will widen the sidewalks from Chris’s Pond Lane moving south to The Village at Ocean’s End.

Public works garage

Snow plow trucks will have to spend another winter in the meager shelter on the Public Works campus on Seal Cove Road. Engineering bids for a new garage at the public works facility are due Oct. 22. Once those come in, the town will have a better idea of when construction can begin on a new 98-by-64-foot garage.

A budget of $280,000 has been set aside for the public works garage. VanDongen has reworked previous plans to simplify the building. In the currently proposed structure, there will be a concrete slab with radiant heating, six bay entrances and four insulated walls. The roof of the building will be south-facing in order to house a solar array once it is constructed.

Space in the new garage will need to be big enough to house the town’s one-ton truck, pickup truck, two snowplow trucks, a Bobcat, one front-end loader and a street sweeper, according Public Works Director Scott Alley.

When the new garage is constructed, the current one will be removed, along with the small metal and wood-sided shelter the snowplow trucks are now housed in.

A decrepit chimney on the current public works garage is from a previous era when it was heated by a wood stove, according to Alley.

“If it fell down, it would probably come right through the roof,” he said.

Alley has been anxiously waiting for a new garage for the last few years. He has worked for the town for 32 years.

“School buses don’t even fit in it,” said Alley about the current garage. “It was built as cheaply as you could build it.”

A smaller building on the grounds that is approximately 15 years old will be remodeled to house locker rooms, bathrooms and a break room for employees.

Pumping station

Bids are going out this fall for a half-million dollar renovation project on the Long Pond raw water pumping station. Construction is expected to begin this fall on the more than 100-year-old building. An outdated pump is also set for replacement.

The work will be funded with a bond that will be paid back over the next 40 years, according to Chairman of the Water and Sewer District Jim Geary.

“We wanted to finish the project before winter,” he has said. “What we decided as a district is if the voters didn’t approve it, the water district could afford to do it.”

In December 2016 when the pump at the station failed, the fire department used its pumper truck to keep water moving to the treatment plant.

Selectmen are hosting public information sessions regarding funding for the district’s projects to get feedback on how residents not on the public system can contribute to costs. The first of these sessions is planned for the Oct. 23 selectmen’s meeting.

Infrastructure project

When voters approved a $2.3 million infrastructure improvement bond at the 2017 Annual Town Meeting, they were looking at improving 11 areas of town.

By the time construction on the remaining portion of the project begins next spring, it will be a significantly reduced number of improvements.

When the originally outlined project went out to bid this year, it came back with a $4.1 million price tag, according to VanDongen. So, the engineers had to reprioritize the list to see what could be done with the original funds. Out of the $2.3 million, $1.9 million remains to do the work.

This fall, construction on the infrastructure of Cedar Lane begins the list. That work includes replacing sewer and water mains as well as improving drainage.

Next spring, construction on Claremont Road, Lower Clark Point Road and Upper Clark Point Road is planned. VanDongen hopes the project will be completed by the end of 2019, but there is a period during the summer when construction is prohibited in areas of downtown, he said.

There is a low-interest (one percent) loan for $491,000 that has been approved for the project in addition to the available funds. However, according to Kenney, 20 percent of that loan can be forgiven, depending on how it is allocated and what work is completed.

In addition to these projects, during a recent meeting, selectmen approved taking $25,000 from the capital improvement account to switch six-inch water mains to 12-inch pipes on the south end of Main Street. There were two water main breaks over the summer due to the aged pipes. An earlier update of the pipes did not include those that need to be switched, district manager Kelley said earlier this year.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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