WATERVILLE — The City Council on Tuesday took the first of two votes needed to approve an agreement with the state to add another left turn lane from upper Main Street onto Waterville Commons Drive to help relieve traffic congestion and improve safety.

The meeting was livestreamed from the city’s website — www.waterville-me.gov.

The agreement the council approved in a 6-0 vote is a Municipal Partnership Initiative, in which the city and Maine Department of Transportation each would pay for half of the left turn lane project.

Councilor Mike Morris, D-Ward 1, was absent from the meeting. Councilor Flavia Oliveira, D-Ward 2, attended remotely from Cape Verde, where she has been stranded for a few weeks, unable to get back to the United States because flights have been canceled due to the coronavirus.

The added turn lane would be for vehicles traveling north on Main Street and turning west onto Waterville Commons Drive.

The total cost of the project is expected to be between $40,000 and $60,000. The city would pay for its share from the annual paving account, according to City Manager Michael Roy.

Walmart, Home Depot, Staples, Ruby Tuesday and other businesses are off Waterville Commons Drive. Bangor Savings Bank and Fireside Inn are on either side of the entrance to the drive. Roy said a sliver of property on the Fireside Inn side of the drive would be used to allow for the extra turn lane to be constructed.

“I just want to say, this is a project we’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Roy said during the meeting.

The state approved funding for the project and the design work has been completed, he said.

“I’m not going to promise it’ll be done by Christmas shopping time this year,” Roy said, “but I hope it is because we all know what it is like.”

Three lanes of traffic will remain on upper Main Street, but instead of left turn, middle and right turn lanes, there would be two left turns, according to Roy.

The council must take another vote on the initiative agreement to finalize it.

 

PUBLIC SAFETY FEES

In other matters, councilors took the first of two votes needed to amend the public safety ordinance to add a fee schedule for emergency medical care and ambulance transport. The vote was 6-0.

The Fire Department bought two used ambulances and plans to use them to transport patients when Delta Ambulance is significantly delayed.

With the fee schedule added to the city’s ordinance, the Fire Department would be able to charge patients for ambulance transport. The fee schedule would become effective May 1.

Fire Chief Shawn Esler said it is up to the city to set billing rates for transport. The rates were presented to the Fire Study Committee, but because of the COVID-19 situation, that committee has not been meeting. Because the fire department is licensed for ambulance transport, it could transport patients any time, he said.

“It’s imperative that we push these rates forward,” Esler said.

He added that the fees are based on an analysis of area fire departments and Delta Ambulance rates.

“Our rates are going to be higher than Delta’s,” Esler said. “We don’t want to compete with a nonprofit, and they’re going to be extremely competitive with other agencies.”

Since rescue services can range widely, from minor injuries and evaluations to life-saving efforts, the fee structure will reflect that. Costs will range from $525 for a no-transport response to $1,400 for the most advanced life-support services with transport to a hospital, plus mileage. Depending on need, extra paramedics could be called on to intercept en route to offer additional advanced care. The ambulance crew could also offer no-cost lift assists when needed as well.

 

OTHER MATTERS

The council also voted 6-0 Tuesday to approve a lease for Vacationland Skydiving to begin operating at the city-owned Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport. Vacationland will lease office and hangar space on a trial basis for five months, from May 1 to Sept. 30. The rent would be $800 per month.

The council voted to choose Stantec Consulting Services as the airport’s consultant and have Roy issue to Stantec a notice to proceed with work associated with the pavement preservation and airport restriping grant.

Councilors voted 6-0 to approve a contract for up to $150,000 with Maine Highlands Contracting to complete repair work on the Waterville Public Library roof. The work was included in the list of needed repairs in the city’s 2019 bond.

The council voted 6-0 to award a $24,845 contract to Sherwin-Williams Co. of Waterville for paint to be used for striping streets, parking lots, crosswalks and parking spaces.

Councilors also voted 6-0 to renew a special amusement license to the president and trustees of Colby College, doing business as the Joseph Family Spa.

Before the vote, Councilor Rick Foss, R-Ward 5, questioned whether the spa is a taxable property on the Colby campus. Both Roy and City Clerk Patti Dubois said they did not know, and Roy emailed City Assessor Paul Castonguay during the meeting to ask.

Foss said the spa should fall under a taxable area of the college. Mayor Nick Isgro said Foss was asking the question because another college, which Isgro thought was Yale but he said he was not certain, has a for-profit entity such as a food business on campus and the community sued the college and procured a large amount of money. Isgro said the onus is on a community to have a college prove what is for-profit and what is nonprofit on campus. Foss concurred.

“I want to make sure that the city of Waterville is getting what they deserve for the taxable property, if that is to be had,” he said.

The council voted 6-0 to authorize Roy to secure an agreement with Maine Power Options, which guarantees fixed pricing for delivery of heating oil, gasoline and diesel from July 1, 2020,  to June 30, 2021.

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