MECHANIC FALLS — Town councilors, acting in their capacity as Water
Department trustees, have agreed to a plan to extend water service from
Poland Regional High School down Route 26 to Aggregate Road, near the
Regional School Unit 16 central office.

Poland Town Manager Dana Lee and John Cleveland, consultant for
Poland’s community and Economic Development Committee, say the estimated
$800,000 project would be done at “no cost and no
risk” to Mechanic Falls water utility customers or taxpayers.

“In fact, the project will mean greater revenues for the water department,” Lee said.

He explained that extending water service along Route 26 is critical
to the town’s plans to create an economically viable “village center”
and the cooperation of the Mechanic Falls Water Department was
essential because Poland lies within the Mechanic Falls Water
District’s service area as established by the Maine Public Utilities
Commission.

Funding is being sought from three sources, including the Maine
Community Development Block Grant program, eligibility for which will
be determined by a survey to see if the area to be served meets low-
and moderate-income guidelines.

The second source is a consolidation grant program which, Lee
explained, supports projects that “take very small public water systems
off line.” In this instance, it means systems serving the Town Office/town
hall/library complex, Poland Community School, businesses in the
Dunkin’ Donuts mini-mall and several day-care centers.

The third potential funding source is the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which loans money at between 1 and 2 percent.

“This is where the Mechanic Falls Water Department comes in and our
hopes are that we will only have to borrow something under $100,000,”
Lee said. He noted that while the Water Department would be the loan
applicant, Poland would sign legal documents whereby it would become
responsible for repaying the loan.

The town of Poland will hold a public hearing on the water extension
project at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9, in the Town Office meeting room.

In other Mechanic Falls news, the Town Council accepted Oxford resident Thomas
Richards’ bid to pay the town $39,700 to harvest trees from town land
near the transfer station. The council also amended the building permit
fee schedule for new commercial construction, keeping the fee at 37
cents per square foot but capping the fee at a $5,000 maximum and, for
commercial renovations, keeping the fee at 10 cents per square foot
with a $3,000 cap. The previous fee schedule had no cap, which meant
the fee for a large development could run to $30,000 or more, something
the council felt was excessive.

The council also agreed to hold a public hearing on the Water
Department’s annual budget at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, at Water
Department offices on Highland Avenue.