Water plant needs upgrades

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The town is facing $150,000 in upgrades to the water treatment plant, Town Manager Don Lagrange informed selectmen Tuesday.

In making the case for replacing obsolete equipment at the plant, Lagrange pointed to a recent failure that led to abnormally low levels in the town’s water storage tanks. This, the town manager maintained, was a “serious problem.”

Lagrange recommended doing the work in the fall. Peak usage, he said, is in the summer. Until then, electrical engineer Dwight Lanpher and electrician Ron Fortier will continue to keep the plant running as needed.

Keeping the obsolete equipment is not an option, Lagrange said. Replacement parts are no longer available.

The work would involve replacing controls, actuators and valves and include rewiring, Lagrange said.

Dan Norwood, chairman of the board of selectmen, said the repairs were not “unexpected” but expressed dismay that the cost was considerably higher than the original estimate of $40,000.

Selectmen took no action but did ask Lagrange to keep them informed about the situation.

Lagrange also reported the results of a preliminary engineering study and appraisal of the Knote property across from the Manset Town Dock. The town has considering buying the property, which is listed at $770,000, for use as a parking lot. Lagrange, at a previous selectmen’s meeting, presented a paid-parking plan that he said would not only cover payments on a loan for purchase of the property and the estimated $230,000 needed to develop the lot but also produce revenue for the town, and in turn, add to the coffers of local businesses.

In general, the engineering study by G.F. Johnston and Associates agreed with Lagrange’s assessment that the Knote property could become a parking lot. Johnston suggested replacing portable toilets with permanent bathroom facilities and making drinking water available at the parking lot. The latter, Johnston said, could be a “saleable asset” for the town. Kayakers, as well as people on large cruising vessels, are willing to pay for potable water.

In a memo to Lagrange, Marianna Reeves, a broker and realtor with ERA Dawson Bradford, stated she is working to establish a fair market value for the Shore Road property. The home on the property, which the town would tear down, was built in 1860 and needs considerable work. For tax purposes, the town assesses the property at $560,200. Almost 75 percent of the assessment is for the land; the house is valued at $145,800.

“It is my opinion that the value is not considerable greater than the assessed amount,” Reeves concludes.

Selectmen agreed to resume discussion of the parking lot plan at their next meeting.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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