NEW GLOUCESTER — New Gloucester Water District trustees on Tuesday awarded Wright-Pierce of Topsham the contract for engineering, design and construction of a $2.4 million public water system for Upper Gloucester village.
Voters approved the project Saturday.
The system will serve an area where private wells were polluted by benzene, MBTE and salt dating back to the 1980s. Forty-eight businesses and households will be connected to the system.
Construction will begin this spring.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Cumberland County Community Block Grant program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will fund more than $1.4 million of the cost. The town will borrow another $1 million.
Each of the town’s taxable units would see an annual increase of about $18 for the water project, and another $3 for fire protection, based on a home valued at $200,000.
About a dozen residents attended Tuesday's meeting. The agenda did not allow public comment, and a uniformed Cumberland County sheriff's deputy stood guard in the room during the meeting.
After the formal meeting ended, trustee Chairman Lawrence Zuckerman, and members Jim Giffune and Steve Johnson, Town Planner Paul First and Steve Libby, chairman of the New Gloucester Board of Selectmen, listened to residents for more than an hour.
Some residents objected to the way Saturday's vote was handled, saying they felt tricked and ignored, and they questioned the procedure followed by the moderator.
Others asked whether the show of hands to identify registered voters was an accurate way to validate them. No secret ballot was requested for Saturday's vote.
Others said they arrived late to the meeting, which took less than 15 minutes. Others said there was no discussion by the public before the vote, though moderator Donald Libby asked for public comment by a show of hands and no one responded.
Saturday’s vote — it was nearly unanimous by a show of hands by about 200 people — reversed a Jan. 14 vote that was 116-101.