$600K grant sought for road work

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The town is seeking a $600,000 state grant to cover three-fourths of the cost of rebuilding Forest Avenue and replacing water and sewer lines.

Forest Avenue is a narrow residential street that intersects Main Street.

Annaleis Hafford of the engineering firm Olver Associates said at a public hearing Tuesday night that the roadway has suffered “substantial deterioration” caused in part by poor drainage.

“It’s in dire need of a complete rebuild,” she said.

Public works foreman Scott Alley described the street as “a pretty good mess.”

“If we don’t get this grant, we’re probably looking at doing some kind of Band-Aid patch on that road [because] it’s in such bad shape,” he said.

Hafford said the old cast iron water pipes were small to begin with, and the build-up of residue over the years has narrowed the interior diameter to less than three inches.

“That makes it so that you don’t have adequate pressure, and fire protection is poor; it doesn’t meet today’s standards,” she said. “There also are a lot of leaks.”

She estimates the entire project would cost about $800,000. The town is applying to the state for a Community Development Block Grant of $600,000. The block grant program, through which the state distributes federal funds, requires a $200,000 local match. The town has the money in a reserve fund.

Hafford said there is no guarantee that Southwest Harbor will get the community development grant. “There’s probably $80 million in requests and maybe $8 million of funds available,” she said.

The application will be good for three years.

To qualify to even apply for the grant, a majority of residents who would be directly affected must have low or moderate incomes. Town finance director Tabbetha Newenham, who did much of the work on the application, surveyed the residents of Forest Avenue and found that 71 percent meet that income criterion.

“I’m told [the grant agency] hasn’t ever seen it that high,” she said.

Town officials plan to submit the grant application a couple of days prior to the March 6 deadline. If the grant is approved, funds would be available after July 1. Work could start next spring.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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