SOUTHWEST HARBOR — As of the end of February, the latest estimate to upgrade a portion of the Main Street sidewalk was $1.6 million.
That amount is $400,000 more than last year’s estimate, according to an update given by interim town manager Dana Reed during the Feb. 23 Board of Selectmen meeting.
“That’s a ton of money, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “This is a project that has been going on for several years.”
Nearly four years ago, then town manager Don Lagrange told the board that the town was awarded just under a half a million dollars in grant funds for reconstruction of the sidewalk from Apple Lane to Village at Oceans End. At that time, the project was estimated to cost $840,000.
“Most of the drainage underneath that whole section needs to be replaced,” said Reed, adding that changing the grade of the road required permission from Main Street residents along the stretch to change the grade of their driveways. “Looking at all the requirements, you can see why it hasn’t been done sooner.”
Last October, former town manager Justin VanDongen told the board that taxpayers had approved $860,000 for the project and grant funds from the state were about $400,000.
“You really need to accept that state grant as soon as possible,” said Reed. “There’s a lot of competition out there for that money.”
Board member Carolyn Ball expressed concern that one property owner was not in support of the project.
“It’s hard to approve money i the answer’s going to be no from a property owner,” she said.
Board Chairman Kristin Hutchins added that the board had been waiting on the state to resolve the right–of–way issues with neighbors.
“They’ve got these cumbersome processes now to make sure the landowners get fairly compensated,” said Reed. He explained $85,000 is scheduled to come out of the grant money to pay landowners affected by the project. “What they give you with one hand, they take away with the other.”
Because a meeting with the town’s Infrastructure Committee and the project engineer, Olver Associates, was scheduled to take place later that week, the board decided to postpone any decisions until their next meeting where they hoped to have more information.
“You’ll probably have to return to Town Meeting and ask for bonding to do this project,” Reed told the board.
“It makes the town garage look cheap,” said Ball.