Board to review town meeting warrant, sign contract for road project

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BETHEL — Selectmen are expected to review and approve the 35-article town meeting warrant for June 8 and 9 at the board’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, May 3, in the town office.

Although, since it is the first draft, there is a proviso that it might not include items that could be added at a later date.

They will also execute a Rural Road Initiative Agreement with the Maine Department of Transportation for a $450,000 reconstruction project on 1.38 miles of Sunday River Road, discuss a traffic control plan for June sidewalk construction on Mason Street and consider several proposed ordinance amendment drafts ranging from signs to subdivisions.

Additionally, Town Manager Jim Doar said Friday that the board would set a public hearing for May 26 on the ordinance amendments and the June 8 referendum on whether to upgrade the police department or disband it and contract with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office for coverage.

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The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 8 for the police department referendum and municipal elections. The rest of the warrant will be taken in town meeting format at 7 p.m. on June 9 at Crescent Park School.

In the referendum, voters have two options:

• Option 1: Upgrade the police department to provide 24/7 coverage by academy-trained officers at $453,794 and raise and appropriate that for the first year.

• Option 2: Contract with the county for 24/7 coverage at $295,000 annually for the next three years and raise and appropriate that amount. There is an option to extend the contract another two years at a predetermined 2 percent annual increase. Language in town law pertaining to the police department would also be tweaked to allow for the switch.

Selectmen and the Budget Committee are recommending Option 2.

In the Sunday River Road reconstruction project, Doar said he was pleased to learn that MDOT has agreed to pay 67 percent of the project. Bethel’s share is 33 percent.

Although the agreement was written for a $450,000 project, it was funded for a $600,000 project, and the MDOT is committed to that amount, Heath E. Cowan, MDOT Western Region project manager, stated in an April 26 letter to Doar.

“It is my understanding that the town is in the process of securing funds for your share of a $600,000 project,” Cowan said. “When this is complete, please let me know and we will update this agreement to the higher amount with an amendment.”

Should Bethel not secure funding for the higher amount, Cowan said the project limits would be shortened or the scope of work changed to meet the $450,000 amount.

The project involves about 1.38 miles of Sunday River Road from Route 2 to the Newry town line. Scheduled work includes horizontal and vertical alignment, drainage improvements, and new base gravel and pavement.

Cowan said the project’s purpose is to rebuild this portion of the road to modern standards and improve the ride quality.

The sidewalk project involves construction along Mason Street from Broad to Crescent streets and along Crescent Street to connect with walkways at the Crescent Park School. Two drainage lines crossing Mason Street are also included.

Work by Pratt and Sons Inc. of Mechanic Falls will start June 1 on Mason Street, and the whole project will be finished by June 25.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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