NORWAY – The Board of Selectmen has agreed to look into issuing a $1 million bond to repair infrastructure on Main Street.
Town Manager David Holt told board members on Thursday night that the town has been trying for years to get the state, which owns the road, to make improvements, particularly on a stretch of Main Street known locally as Lower Main Street by the Stephens Memorial Hospital.
“I doubt the project is ever going to happen,” said Holt of the need to fix the non-working drainage system and sidewalks and make other repairs at an estimated $760,000 cost. “It’s not a priority with the state.”
Additionally, Holt said Main Street between the Rowe Elementary School at the intersection of Paris Road and Main Street down to the Advertiser-Democrat Block at the intersection of Pikes Hill Road, also needs work, including an updated sewer system. The sewer system is one of the oldest in town, he said.
Holt said he believes the town owns the sidewalks and could proceed with a project to repair those on lower Main Street, but there is no money for the project.
Grant money has not been available, he said.
Holt told the board that there is a cost-sharing program with the state that could be investigated which would mean the town would pay half of the estimated $760,000 for the Lower Main Street improvements.
Selectman Russel Newcomb said that while the improvements on Lower Main Street are needed and those on Main Street are important, he is concerned about a summer construction in downtown Main Street.
“It would be tough to lose at least one summer season of shopping on Main Street,” he said. “On the other hand, if (the road) were more welcoming, it would help the shops.”
“Main Street is in poor condition,” Holt said. “In order to fix it, it needs to be dug up. There’s no good way to do it. It’s a very difficult job to do with businesses on Main Street.”
“There are lots and lots of problems,” he added.
Holt said he believes the state intends to give Main Street and Lower Main Street an overlay again this year – something known as a “skinny coat,” – but it has only been a temporary fix.
“It might help a year or two, but it’s not a long term answer,” he said. “It’s almost a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.”
The town is about to pay off a $1 million bond which would allow an easier opportunity for another bond to be secured, Holt said.