A map presented at the Aug. 14 Select Board Meeting highlights in green areas of the infrastructure project that will be part of the work to start on Oct. 1. It also highlights in orange areas that were part of the original project that can not be funded at this time. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Scope of infrastructure project has been shrinking



SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Selectmen have expressed concern that the existing budget will not cover all of the work they hoped it would for an upcoming infrastructure project.

When voters approved $2.3 million for the project at the 2017 Annual Town Meeting, it included 11 areas in need of road resurfacing, water, sewer, and/or drainage work.

These areas were prioritized from a 2010 report on the town’s roads and water/sewer infrastructure, conducted by Olver Associates of Winterport.

From those 11 areas, five have made it to the top of the priority list and will be addressed in this first phase. The bulk of the cost will come from the underground work on water, sewer and drainage systems.

When the originally outlined project recently went out to bid, it came back with a $4.1 million price tag, according to Town Manager Justin VanDongen. Only $1,976,444 of the $2.3 million remains to do the work.

This is because the warrant article stated the funds could be used for engineering, design and other necessary fees related to the project. A 10 percent contingency fund is included in the remaining amount, in case any surprises come up during construction, according to Annaleis Hafford of Olver Associates.

“Now we’re going to do a third of what the voters approved,” said board chairman Chad Terry. “I don’t feel we got our bang for our buck from Olvers.”

Voters were asked to approve spending $2.3 million on infrastructure improvements for the town in a warrant article.

“Are we planning to spend money on a project that wasn’t explicitly approved?” asked selectman Kristin Hutchins.

An explanatory note below the article presented specific areas for the project. Because the items were not included in the warrant article, the town approved spending on a project outlined two years ago. Time changes both the cost and scope, the note said.

Items in the explanatory note included resurfacing Fernald Point Road, Village Green parking, Village Green Way, Clark Point Road (Main Street to Herrick Road), Hillcrest Acres, Shore Road (from Spar Cottage to Kings Lane to Seawall Road), Freeman Ridge and Robinson Lane. It also included design work, utilities reconstruction and road resurfacing on Cedar Lane, Robinson Hill and Claremont Road. The sidewalk and railing at the bulkhead across Claremont Road were to be reconstructed, and storm water drainage added.

VanDongen presented selectmen with a map of the project as it will continue. Each of the original pieces that were outlined in the explanatory note was highlighted in different colors. Those in green are part of the current project. The ones highlighted in orange are being put off at this time.

“We asked voters to decide on something for an amount for a very different plan than what is here,” selectman Ryan Donahue said. “We know they still need to be done, how do we get there? What is our long-term plan for these roads going forward?”

Terry asked about grant money that was meant to aid in the project at the meeting. Water and Sewer District Manager Steve Kenney said on Monday a low interest (one percent) loan/grant of $491,000 has been approved for the project, in addition to the $2.3 million approved by voters. Twenty percent of that loan will be forgiven depending on how it is allocated and what work is completed.

“It changes with what is spent and what is actually done,” Kenney explained. “This is a town project but they are going through the district for the grant.”

VanDongen said some of the remaining pieces of the project could be paid for in the town’s existing paving budget.

“Infrastructure work had been let go for 20 years,” selectman Lydia Goetze told the Islander Monday.

What remains of the project is Cedar Lane, Claremont Road, Lower Clark Point Road and Upper Clark Point Road, all of which need water/sewer or drainage work. Improving the roadway and sidewalks for Village Green Way is also part of the plan.

“Some of these roads we’ve eliminated, they need help now,” said Public Works Director Scott Alley during the meeting.

“There’s more water and sewer work to be done under the road than is here,” said Donahue. “Our voters deserve to have roads they can drive on…. How do we get there?”

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley covers the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands. Send story ideas and information to shinckley@mdislander.com.