Poland approves infrastructure projects

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POLAND — Town meeting voters on Saturday overwhelming approved two major infrastructure projects — with a combined price tag of $5.3 million — intended to lay the groundwork for long-range economical development at the town’s core.

The Downtown Village project ($1 million) consists of extending a 12-inch water line from Poland Regional High School south along Route 26 about 8,000 feet to Aggregate Road.

Community and Economic Committee Chairman Chuck Finger said his committee has been pushing the project for two years in case of the Maine Department of Transportation’s rebuilding of Route 26, between Brown and Aggregate Roads, scheduled for this summer.

The South Village project ($4.3 million) consists of extending water and sewer from the Poland Spring Bottling Co. out Route 122 to Route 26 and then north 2,500 feet and south 1,500 feet.

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Town Manager Dana Lee noted that due to the complicated nature of the project’s funding, a second special town meeting will be needed once Augusta approves expanding the existing Poland Spring tax-increment financing district.

After Lee offered a detailed explanation of the project’s financial analysis, Economic Development Committe member David Corcoran said that a translation of Lee’s presentation was simply: “This will not affect your tax bill.”

Voters then gave enthusiastic support to the water and sewer projects.

The town’s annual working budget was set at slightly more than $3 million, with voters following Budget Committee recommendations.

That amount includes putting $692,500 into the town’s 2010-11 capital improvement program.

Lee noted that under ideal circumstances, the town should invest $815,000 in capital improvements, but he was pleased that the town was able to raise nearly $700,000.

“When towns push off those investments and stack them up for a future year, a town can get in real trouble, have to start borrowing to buy equipment and to pave roads,” Lee said.

After all spending articles were approved, the total to be raised by property taxes was $1.92 million, about $7,000 less than the current fiscal year budget.

“There are no raises of any sort for any staff, nor any stipends for the selectmen,” Lee said.

Voters authorized selectmen to accept two gifts of land. Ten acres that lie between Route 26 and Brown Road and 25 acres adjacent to town land on Bragdon Hill.

Resident George Sanborn was upset with the state of the latter property, noting the present owner had it clear-cut.

“It’s an eyesore,” Sanborn said. “Looks like a nuclear bomb went off.”

While others disagreed with the degree of devastation, the fact that it provides access to an otherwise land-locked town parcel convinced a clear majority to accept the land.

The ordinance for the recall of elected municipal officials was repealed by a vote of 62-48 after a lively discussion over the adequacy of recall language in the Town Charter as approved by voters a year ago.

Registrar of Voters, Rosemary Roy, said 140 townspeople were in attendance.

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