Lewiston council retooling mill demo debt to fix roads

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LEWISTON — Bond money originally earmarked to demolish Bates Mill No. 5 could be used to repair and repave  some of the city’s roads this summer.

Councilors told staff Tuesday to increase the city’s paving program from $1 million to $1.37 million, adding to the list of roads getting work this summer and setting aside some money to maintain roads that are still in good shape.

“The roads certainly need it,” City Councilor Renee Bernier said.

Councilors reviewed their capital improvement bond package for the coming year at Tuesday’s City Council workshop. They’re scheduled to vote on the bulk of the plan at their June 1 meeting. They are scheduled to vote on the bond a second time at the June 15 meeting, and will vote then to increase the bond money set aside for roadwork.

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The city has a borrowing cap, limiting annual borrowing to 97 percent of the average amount of debt paid off during the previous year. That will be about $7.3 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year.

The city would borrow less than half of that, $3.5 million, to fund the current list of projects.

The city had planned to demolish the massive Bates Mill building at Main and Canal streets this spring, but councilors voted in March to halt the demolition. The city had planned to borrow $800,000 to pay for that work. Councilors Tuesday said they liked the idea of using some of that bonding capacity to repair streets without increasing the overall debt.

The current plan is to borrow money to completely rehabilitate parts of Cotton and Pond roads and to put a new layer of asphalt on Switzerland and College roads. Those projects are budgeted for $1 million.

An additional $500,000 would be enough to rehabilitate Crowley Road and another 4,500 feet of Old Greene Road.

The capital borrowing plan would also be used to pay for a new $450,000 pumper fire truck and repairs and sidewalk work on Ash Street between Bates and Sabattus streets.

But councilors had concerns about a proposed software operating conversion from Novell to Microsoft and a proposed effort to take over and replace the Beech Street bridge, which connects Oxford Street to Simard-Payne Memorial Park. Councilors recommended both projects be put on hold.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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