RUMFORD —  Selectmen voted 3-1 Thursday night to forgo the bid process and hire a Livermore Falls firm and its Yarmouth design team to engineer plans to revitalize downtown.

Envision Rumford President Jennifer Kreckel gave the board a proposal of services from Main-Land Development Consultants Inc. and landscape architect Terrance J. DeWan of Terrence J. DeWan & Associates of Yarmouth.

It included their estimate to develop a design to better engineer and reconstruct downtown sidewalk areas.

The first phase, which consists of concept-level base mapping, aerial photos and creating a graphic master plan of the downtown sidewalk areas, will cost an estimated $11,500.

The second phase, which includes base mapping, design development and construction documents, layout and administration at client direction, will cost an estimated $30,400.

Holding up a copy of the proposal, Kreckel showed the board a photograph of the current streetscape looking south from the intersection of Congress Street and Hartford Street toward Exchange Street. A second photograph she displayed revealed how the same location would look with proposed safety improvements and added greenery.

During a site walk on May 22 with town officials, Kreckel and Main-Land engineers and a member of the Yarmouth firm, the design team recognized opportunities to improve pedestrian circulation around the downtown island and areas where improved pedestrian-vehicle conflicts could be reduced.

According to the proposal, sidewalk surfaces were in poor condition in many places, holes left over from tree removals are dangerous and need to be eliminated and light poles and fixtures should be updated.

There already is money in the sidewalk reconstruction fund because the Public Works crew is to start the work along Congress Street this summer.

Kreckel told selectmen Thursday night that she wanted to ensure that the sidewalks last as long as possible and that they are designed to improve efficiency. Additionally, corners, which are lined with bricks in sand, need to be made safer, she said.

Kreckel said that improving the sidewalks and safety of the downtown would make it more appealing for new businesses.

“You’re not going to get more businesses here unless you have something to offer,” she said. “Right now, we’re sort of in a desperate situation with our downtown.”

She said Envision Rumford doesn’t want to delay the sidewalk reconstruction project, but would like it to be done “in the best possible fashion.”

“For us to attract new businesses here, we should be exploring this,” Town Manager John Madigan said.

Additionally, he said there are dangerous areas on the downtown sidewalks that need to be repaired even if it’s only a temporary fix done as cheaply as possible with asphalt before the long-term concrete reconstruction and beautification work is undertaken.

“We will do our best to do this as fast as possible if you approve it,” Bob Berry, Main-Land owner, president and engineer, said of their proposal.

Selectman Frank DiConzo wanted more time to consider it and a board workshop before going forward.

“There are serious issues here, safety issues,” Selectman Jolene Lovejoy said. “We want to do the right thing.”

She urged approval to get the work underway as soon as possible.

Selectman Brad Adley agreed with Lovejoy.

“We’ve been kicking this can for several months,” he said.

Selectman candidate Candice Casey encouraged selectmen to approve it.

“This should have been taken care of a couple of years ago,” she said of sidewalk reconstruction. “We’re in a crisis situation here.”

Casey said that whether it costs $100,000 or $200,000 to reconstruct the sidewalks and improve safety for pedestrians, it would be foolish not to hire an engineering firm to do the best work possible even if there is a delay.

Lovejoy and Adley agreed with Casey.

“I think we are in dire circumstances here,” Lovejoy said.

Acting board Chairman Jeff Sterling motioned to accept Main-Land Development Consultants Inc. as the engineering firm for the project at its stated price of $11,500 for Phase I and $30,400 for Phase II.

Madigan said money for that work can be taken from the sidewalks construction fund.

DiConzo then said he wasn’t comfortable going against Rumford’s bid process policy and Sterling agreed, so the board took a five-minute recess while Madigan reviewed the policy.

When he returned and the meeting resumed, Madigan said the municipal purchasing procedures policy exempts contracts for professional services from the competitive bidding process.

Selectmen then approved Main-Land’s proposal with DiConzo dissenting. He said he objected because the board didn’t consult with Public Works officials.

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