Mechanic Falls seeks repaving, sidewalk work for Route 121

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MECHANIC FALLS — Sidewalks in the downtown could see some improvements as early as this summer, Town Manager John Hawley told the council Monday.

Hawley said that he, and representatives from water and sewer departments, met with Maine Department of Transportation officials to discuss plans to repave Route 121 from the Hackett Mills Bridge in Minot clear through to the bridge over the Little Androscoggin in downtown Mechanic Falls.

Hawley said he told them that sidewalks in the vicinity of Veterans’ Park are in bad shape and the curbs need to be raised.

“I’ve wanted to do this area for some time,” Hawley said.

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He noted that the town had about $80,000 set aside in a reserve account for sidewalk improvements, which, combined with state resources, could go a long way toward fixing up sidewalks on both sides on the street from the mill corner to the bridge.

In other business, Hawley reported that the new wood pellet boiler is in and he expects that a test burn could be conducted this week and, if that proves successful, the new system could be on line in another week.

“I’ve also been approached by someone from the University of Maine, looking for people willing to try some experimental composite pellets,” Hawley said.

The composite pellets were described as having a lower moisture content and a higher BTU yield than conventional pellets.

The council was curious to know what might be in the composites and suggested Hawley might determine whether the system could accept such a fuel and whether the manufacturer’s guarantee would continue if such a fuel were to be introduced before proceeding with the “free fuel.”

In other business, the council awarded the bid for a new Water Department pickup truck to Rowe Ford at a bid price, with trade-in, of $13,252 for the four-wheel-drive model. The bid was the lowest of four received.

The council also adopted a new check policy, which includes a provision whereby a $40 redeposit fee will be charged for checks that initially have insufficient funds backing them up.

On the recommendation of the town’s attorney, the council approved employment policy changes to keep up with changes in state law. The policy changes address cell phone use, distracted driving, personal phone calls and messaging, and the use of social media.

The council also authorized Hawley to go out to bid for a replacement to the 2006 downsized one-and-a-half-ton dump truck. Hawley explained that while the vehicle wasn’t scheduled for replacement until 2016, it just was not up to doing the job the town needs.

Hawley also reported that despite the rather mild winter, the town wasn’t seeing any savings to the winter roads budget. He noted it is a whole lot cheaper to plow snow than take care of the mess created by freezing rain and that the use of sand and salt is well above average.

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