NEWRY — Selectmen approved adding a road project and funding for it at Tuesday night’s special meeting to finalize the March town meeting warrant and municipal budget.

They also debated removing the “fire ponds” requirement from the fire suppression ordinance but decided to leave it in for the Feb. 17 public hearing on ordinance proposals and amendments.

The main issue of fire ponds was enforcement and maintenance. Dave Bonney, Newry’s code enforcement officer, said the Planning Board wants to keep the requirement as one of three methods developers can choose. The other two are cisterns and adding sprinklers to buildings.

Morton wanted to keep fire ponds in the ordinance to add water sources to the town, which is in a mountainous area.

Following much discussion on which of three road projects to address this year, Board of Selectmen Chairman Wendy Hanscom motioned to raise $150,000 from taxation and take $150,000 from the Capital Improvement account to pave 1,200 feet of the Letter S road, based on engineer Joe Aloisio’s design, and to buy down the tax rate using $75,000 from surplus.

It was approved 3-0, but not before Selectman Brooks Morton argued for contractor Bruce A. Manzer’s proposal.

The Letter S project calls for reconstructing a stretch of Sunday River Road between Nordic Knoll subdivision and the Letter S swimming hole. Bonney said he got another estimate for the work, which will cost $229,000.

At issue was design work, not price. Morton wanted to leave in the current “escape route” for truckers to get around a hump in the road on which their tractor-trailers often get hung up. He said Manzer wants to fill in the area with dirt to stabilize the hill and keep the escape route, whereas Aloisio’s plan is to remove dirt and the escape route.

He said Aloisio’s plan would still leave a 10 percent grade toward the top of the road. Hanscom said that plan would remove the crown that truckers are getting hung up on.

“It seems like we’re just repaving stuff and not fixing the problem,” Selectman Gary Wight said. “I’d rather see it fixed and fixed good rather than put a Band-Aid in and come back in three or four years and put another Band-Aid in.”

Wight wanted to leave it up to the town to decide, but recommended going with Aloisio’s design.

“We hired an engineering firm so let’s finish the work and do Letter S,” Hanscom said.

Any difference between the $300,000 proposed by selectmen, and Bonney’s estimate of $229,000 will be used to reconstruct and repave a section of Sunday River Road from the Letter S project.

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