Another $125K needed for Main Street project 

MOUNT DESERT — Because of a variety of setbacks that increased costs, Public Works Director Tony Smith has, for the third time in two years, asked the Select Board to authorize additional spending for the Main Street revitalization project in Northeast Harbor. 

The board approved his request in February for another $125,000, bringing the total cost of the project to $3.42 million. 

After delays in installing new utility poles caused by difficulties in obtaining all necessary easements from Main Street property owners, Versant power company had planned to start and finish the installation of new poles and overhead wires this past November. But instead of taking one month, that work took three.  

“I chose to have full-time inspection during this process to protect our interests,” Smith said in a memo to Town Manager Durlin Lunt. “This resulted in additional costs for two months of inspection.” 

He said the delay in Versant’s work required a rescheduling of work by the other overhead utilities, Spectrum and Consolidated Communications. 

In addition, Smith said, “The very cold winter weather we occasionally had slowed the general contractor’s progress installing the underground infrastructure for the wires from east to west across Main Street.  

“Our inspector told me that the frost was two to three feet thick in places, a major hindrance to installing the conduits across Main Street. If easements had been more readily obtained and the general contractor was able to work as we had planned – warmer conditions in spring and fall last year – production would have increased and there would have been more work completed in the same amount of time our inspector was on site.” 

In August 2020, the Select Board authorized a $135,000 increase in funding for the Main Street project. An increase of $120,000 was approved in April 2021. 

Those increases and the one approved last month do not involve raising or spending any new money for the project. Major changes in the project that were made after voters at the 2018 town meeting authorized borrowing $3.96 million for the revitalization reduced the projected cost by $713,753. So, any cost overruns can be covered by those “savings.” The current savings balance is $540,189. 

Work on the Main Street improvements will continue through the week before Memorial Day and then stop for the summer. The project is to be completed this fall, a year later than originally planned. 

“As I have previously discussed…this project has been very different and very frustrating as compared to other projects that I have been involved with here and elsewhere over the last 34 years,” Smith said in his memo to Lunt. 


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]

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