Strong selectmen deal with Pond Road paving project

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STRONG — A long-awaited Pond Road paving project is a step closer to completion, but not without some hitches.  

At Tuesday night’s meeting of selectmen, board member Mike Pond said the project would cost less than anticipated, but there was $10,000 less in private donations than first expected for the work.

At a recent special town meeting, voters approved accepting two $20,000 donations and borrowing up to $170,000 for the job. Pond said he learned Monday night that the second $20,000 donation actually was $10,000 from two individuals. One of those two individuals was no longer a resident and would not be making a contribution. The good news was that the cost to do the job is less than the originally proposed $170,000, according to Pond. Selectmen first decided against moving ahead with the Franklin Savings Bank loan without first explaining the situation to taxpayers.

Board Chairman Dick Worthley suggested that their credibility as selectmen was at stake if taxpayers didn’t know selectmen would not receive a $10,000 donation and that the cost of the project would be less than anticipated. Voters were told there was $40,000 in donations when they approved the project.

“We didn’t mislead them,” Selectman Rob Elliott said. “It’s just different than what we promised them.”

As selectmen debated continuing the plan to borrow the money, Pond Road summer resident Herb Neil arrived and said he recently became aware of the $10,000 shortfall.

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“I haven’t had a chance to talk to the people I wanted to talk to,” he said, “but I guess if I can’t get anyone else to come through, I’ll make it up.”

Selectmen thanked him for his generosity and authorized road foreman Duayne Boyd to begin working with Pike Industries to pave the 6,110 feet of Pond Road, from Beanie’s Beach Road to Storybook Lane.

In other action:

• Selectmen agreed that Boyd might have to consider hiring someone to come in regularly to do some maintenance work because Boyd has been extremely busy with other projects all year;

• Selectmen authorized volunteers forming a booster club to raise money to support the activities at the American Legion ball field and help maintain the grounds; and

• Selectmen also signed documents to send property tax bills. The rate is up $1.10, to $15.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

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