Town leaders in Norridgewock this week approved using $50,000 in federal pandemic relief aid for improvements to the historic Grange hall, which is shown Thursday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

NORRIDGEWOCK — The Select Board this week approved the use of federal pandemic relief aid for several projects, including improvements to the town’s Grange hall and to conduct a land survey.

The town is expecting to receive $340,294 over two years as a result of the federal American Rescue Plan Act and has allocated nearly $141,000 of that amount to be spent in five different areas. A public hearing was held prior to the Select Board’s meeting Wednesday.

One of the largest requests, $50,000, will cover facade improvements to the downtown Grange hall, formally known as the Somerset Grange No. 18. In the request to the town, representatives of the hall proposed repairs to improve the curb appeal of the building, which was built in 1865.

This includes repairing and painting all wood surfaces, repairs to doors and signs, installing a handicap-accessible ramp, window replacement and repairs, landscaping and electrical work, and other needs.

Town leaders this week approved spending $50,000 in federal pandemic relief aid for improvements to the building. A front, upper portion of the Somerset Grange No. 18 in Norridgewock. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Officials also approved $65,272 for firefighter turnout gear. The equipment was purchased earlier using the Fire Department’s equipment reserve account, which Deputy Chief Todd Pineo told the board “exists primarily for new fire trucks.” The request was brought to the board in December to avoid an 8% price increase in January. This week’s approval to use the ARPA funds will replenish the department’s account.

A $3,000 request to fund a survey of Ashley Wing Memorial Park on Martin Stream Road was also approved. Town Manager Richard LaBelle said the request is meant to capitalize on the Madison Branch Rail Trail, a 32-mile recreational trail that will extend from Oakland to Embden. About 9 miles of the trail will pass through Norridgewock, LaBelle said.

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State officials are preparing to remove old Maine Central Railroad tracks to make way for the trail, with the plan to have the work finished by the end of the year. Officials have said the trail will be a draw for outdoor enthusiasts but in particular for snowmobilers and ATV riders.

The survey will look at the 5.42-acre park and help officials determine whether the land could support an area for vehicles and trailers, similar to a park-and-ride. If the results of the survey support moving forward, LaBelle said there’s a potential for state funding that could cover up to 90% of the project. If results do not support the park-and-ride, the project “will fall dead in the water,” LaBelle said.

Full-time town employees, including call firefighters, are also scheduled to receive $1,000 premium payments. This is part of a $22,416 expense that will include contributions to retirement plans.

The board also approved $15,000 for improvements to fencing and gates at Barr Hatfield Athletic Park, including repairs to two large backstops.

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