RUMFORD — Selectmen at Thursday night’s board meeting unanimously approved a bid of $16,415 to renovate Hosmer Field’s baseball infield.

Sports Fields Inc. of Monmouth submitted the winning bid. The work won’t be completed until after the spring season.

The project had already been approved by residents and the money appropriated, Mike Mills, Parks & Recreation Department manager, said Thursday night. It was in the department’s five-year plan.

But selectmen balked on approving the proposed safety work when it came up at their Jan. 17 board meeting. Instead, they tabled it, believing the work could be put off for a year or more, despite Mills’ safety concerns for students using the field.

He said there is an 8-inch drop from the baseline from first base to third base.

“It is pretty dangerous and it’s been like this for five to six years,” Mills said.

At that meeting, Selectman Jolene Lovejoy initially motioned to approve the Monmouth contractor’s bid of $16,415 to correct the safety issues.

During discussion, board Chairman Greg Buccina asked Mills if the project could be put off for a year or more until Rumford learns if the Legislature will approve Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal to eliminate revenue sharing to towns for two years.

Selectman Jeremy Volkernick said he believed Mills and the department could do the work for less. After more discussion, the matter was tabled.

At Thursday night’s meeting, Mills told the board that it would cost the department more than $16,415 to do the work in-house.

He said the Parks & Recreation Commission board had already voted to award the project to the Monmouth contractor.

Selectman Brad Adley said he didn’t favor having the department do the work. He said he voted to table it due to the revenue sharing issue.

“My only question is has our situation changed since we tabled it?” Adley asked. “I know (the work) needs to be done. I don’t have any problem with that.”

“Well the problem I have with it, and you guys can comment on it if you like, taxpayers voted to do this,” Mills said.

“It’s in the budget. It was voted to be done. Unless you want to hold a special town meeting and not spend these monies, I don’t see that there’s any way out. I understand the theory of what’s going on here.”

Buccina said the issue was whether or not doing the project was absolutely necessary in the current economic climate and whether the town could afford to do the work.

“And you explained it very well and you said it needs to be done,” he said. “It’s understood that it’s in the Capital Account to be done. Our position was, ‘Are there other options to do it a little more financially appeasable to the citizens?'”

Buccina said the Monmouth contractor’s bid “looks like a pretty good bid compared to the others.”

He asked Mills if he was confident that Sports Fields Inc. could do the work for $16,415 when some of the other bids were about three times that amount for the same work.

Mills answered affirmatively.

Rick White, commission vice chairman, also vouched for the Monmouth contractor. He said they did the football field and irrigation work at the Hosmer Field Complex.

According to the bid, the project will be completed in three weeks.

“There’s just no way we could do this in three weeks,” White said.

Adley asked if not doing the work would put Rumford in jeopardy of violating its contract with RSU 10 to provide athletic fields.

White said it could.

The board voted 4-0 to approve the bid. Volkernick was absent.

In other business, selectmen unanimously approved a municipal order to take tax payments and apply them first to the oldest balance or lien, if there is one, rather than to the current tax bill.

“It’s something we’ve done in the past,” Carlo Puiia, town manager and former longtime Rumford tax collector, said. “It gives the town a leg to stand on.”

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