SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Plans for infrastructure improvements were revised by officials here this week to bring costs back within the budget for the fiscal year.
The problem, Town Manager Don Lagrange told selectmen Aug. 15, is the estimated cost of doing major work on the Robinson Hill Road came in at $850,000. Voters at the May town meeting approved about $2.36 million for all road improvements. Doing all the work scheduled for Robinson Hill would result in a budget overrun of $716,625.
Lagrange suggested narrowing the scope of the project and completing only the paving and curbing at the entrance to the road at an estimated cost of $60,000. Selectmen agreed, voting 5-0 to amend the plan and authorize Lagrange to enter into a contract with Olver Associates, the engineering firm overseeing the work.
Plans had called for paving the entire road, reducing the steep slope at the entrance and upgrading water and sewer lines.
Selectmen also gave approval for use of the municipal parking lot for a Finish Line Festival at the Oct. 15 Mount Desert Island Marathon. The festival is co-sponsored by the Village Green Arts Association and the Southwest Harbor Chamber of Commerce.
A stage for use by musical acts is to be set up in the parking lot. Food and drink vendors will be on private property.
Lagrange noted there were issues with the last year’s event, which was the first of its kind. Vendors were using town property, and regulations regarding consumption of alcoholic beverages were not enforced.
The latter issue was detailed in an Aug. 10 email to Lagrange from police Chief Alan Brown. Brown spoke with one of the organizers, Jim Mitchell of the Village Green Arts Association and owner of the restaurant Coda. The problem last year, Brown wrote, is that people were leaving the food and beer area with alcohol.
“I was clear in that I did not want to see people in any public area consuming intoxicating liquor and that possession/consumption needed to be restricted to the beer and food area,” he wrote.
Mitchell did not attend the meeting. However, marathon organizer Gary Allen did and, after stating that the marathon is not involved with the festival this year, went on to say he believes better controls will be put in place.
Allen said the idea is to keep marathoners and spectators in Southwest Harbor, doing business there instead of returning to Bar Harbor, where the race begins. Business owner John Stanley said he is a supporter of the marathon but was skeptical of the impact it has on downtown businesses.
“I don’t know how many businesses benefit,” Stanley said.
Stanley said his business, Under the Dogwood Tree, which is on Main Street near the finish line, closes that day because of a lack of customers.
Festival organizers also plan to bring in a truck with showers for runners to use. They planned to station the truck in the town office parking lot above the Village Green lot. Selectman Chad Terry said he was concerned about water leaking from the “bladder” the trucks use to store wastewater causing erosion. He suggested moving the truck.
“You’re better off doing it in the upper parking lot where there is a catch basin,” Terry told Allen.
Other board members agreed and voted to approve the use of town parking as long as the shower truck is moved to the lot above the town office.