HALLOWELL — The City Council discussed nearly $2 million in bonds for various projects during Monday night’s meeting at City Hall.

George LaPointe, chairman of the finance committee, prepared a report that outlined the city’s funding needs for a Water Street reconstruction project, the Stevens Commons redevelopment, Central Street parking, a road reclamation project and the purchase of a new plow truck. LaPointe is out of state and did not attend the meeting.

The report says Hallowell’s portion of the cost of the Water Street reconstruction project, scheduled to begin in March 2018, is estimated at $550,000, which includes some of the overall project cost. Another $500,000 is estimated for the Stevens Commons redevelopment; the city would be paying for the reconstruction and improvements to several roads and sidewalks on the 54-acre campus.

“The bonding is a big issue, and we’d be far better served to have a vibrant public discussion before we vote,” Councilor Lisa Harvey McPherson said. “We are elected to do a job and make our case to the public and then ask them to vote.”

Downtown parking has long been an ongoing issue, and the city plans to purchase four lots on or adjacent to Central Street, pending negotiations with the current owner, which then would allow the city to move the Dummer House to Second Street. The original project cost estimate was around $300,000, but LaPointe’s report estimated another $550,000 in project costs. The council, however, didn’t like the fact that those cost estimates mean the city essentially would be paying $30,000 to $60,000 per new parking space created.

The reclamation of Vaughan, Outlet and Town Farm roads would remove the current pavement, rebuild the roadbed and repave the corridor at an estimated cost of $535,000. A new plow truck for the city carries an approximate price of $125,000, and when the city adds $120,000 for contingency, the bond proposal totals more than $1.7 million.

Some of the bond numbers are placeholders, and updates from the council will be needed about whether those numbers increase or decrease, Harvey-McPherson said.

Stevens Commons owner and developer Matt Morrill asked the city to accept the street network proposed on the property at the top of Winthrop Street. Morrill plans to modify some of the existing streets and creating some new street sections. The plans call for installing new water service and hydrants, installing a new stormwater retention pond and creating 1,300 linear feet of full-width gravel road sections and sidewalks. This plan also would require city funding, and Morrill assured the council that he plans to invest in the campus and is working hard to find other sources of investment.

“These funds aren’t going into my pocket,” Morrill said. “We’ve continually stated the importance of the city’s participation in the bond funding, and we hope the city will see the benefits in the public-private partnership.”

In other business, City Manager Nate Rudy appointed, and the council unanimously approved, Douglas Ide, a Manchester selectman, as the city’s new part-time code enforcement officer. Ide has a background in planning and permitting, Rudy said, though he doesn’t possess any of the required certifications yet. He has a year from his start date to acquire them, except he has a six-month window to get certified in plumbing.

The position has been open since Maureen Aucoin-Giroux, who served for six years, left the post in June to pursue other opportunities. In the interim, former Augusta code enforcement chief Dick Dolby has been working in Hallowell, and he will remain on board to assist Ide and continue reviewing documents related to the Stevens Commons redevelopment.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

 


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