Grant for street redo denied

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The town has lost its bid for a $600,000 grant to help pay for rebuilding Forest Avenue and replacing the water and sewer lines beneath the roadway.

But the state agency that administers the Community Development Block Grant Program has encouraged the town to apply again next year. The grant program is funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The grant would have paid three-quarters of the estimated $800,000 cost of the Forest Avenue project. The town would have provided the remaining $200,000 from reserve funds.

Forest Avenue is a narrow residential street that intersects with Main Street. Annaleis Hafford of the engineering firm Olver Associates said at a public hearing on the reconstruction project in February that the roadway has suffered “substantial deterioration” caused in part by poor drainage.

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

Hafford said the old cast iron water pipes beneath the street were small to begin with. A 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 projection is poor; it doesn’t meet today’s standards,” she said. “There also are a lot of leaks, and water is being wasted.”

Hafford said the sewer lines are made of asbestos concrete, which is deteriorating.

Southwest Harbor officials had hoped the Forest Avenue project could start next spring. If the grant is awarded next year, work could start in spring 2017.

The Maine Office of Community Development received applications from 10 communities for “public infrastructure” grants in this year’s grant cycle. Those applications totaled more than $6.4 million. But only $2.7 million was available for infrastructure projects.

Grants were awarded to only four communities. The largest was for $1 million to help with reconstruction of the pier and breakwater in Eastport, a large section of which collapsed in December.

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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