Peru selectmen consider bridge replacement options

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PERU — At their regular Monday night meeting, selectmen heard a report from Road Commissioner Joe Roach on replacing or repairing the Mary Turner Road Bridge.

The town previously approved funds to re-deck the bridge with pressure-treated timber. Roach approached the state about cost sharing. The state estimated the life of a timber-deck bridge as only 10 to 15 years and said they only share the cost of capital improvement projects that have a projected life of 20 years or more.

James Foster, a bridge management engineer for the Maine Department of Transportation, recommended that the town consider a bituminous-filled, orthotropic steel-deck bridge. He believes such a bridge would last 40 years.

An orthotropic steel deck is a stiffened steel deck plate that contributes to the load-carrying capacity of the bridge.

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Roach will research the cost and the potential state contribution and report to the selectmen.

Roach also reported that the town has gone through 800 to 1,000 cubic yards of winter road sand. Even through this has been a relatively mild winter so far, the need for sand has exceeded normal requirements. Roach will keep track of the inventory as the winter progresses to anticipate need for additional sand.

Town Clerk Vera Parent reported that only two Peru businesses participate in a program that exempts personal property from town taxes and then reimburses the town for lost revenue.

Winderosa and Cianbro participate in the plan; personal property of other businesses is taxed by the town. Selectmen approved the two businesses’ continued participation in the plan.

Selectmen agreed to meet with representatives of the Peru Food Bank, located in the old Peru Elementary School, and the Friends of Peru Elementary School to discuss disposal of the food bank’s cooler should the bank close. Presently, the FPES leases the building from the town and the food bank obtains its space from FPES.

After Jan. 1, the town will regain oversight of the school with the intent to promote its use as a community center. FPES will continue to manage the facility. No changes in occupancy or management are expected.

Resident Dawana Kazregis told selectmen that if the cooler is located on town property, then any resident should be able to use it. Selectboard Chairman Lee Merrill explained that the cooler is for the exclusive use of the food pantry.

When selectmen said that the meeting with the food bank and FPES would be a public meeting, but not open for public comment, Kazregis demanded the public have input. She said, “We just want to see things done right.”

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