DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen voted Monday evening to schedule a public hearing for public comment on whether to move forward with the Safe Routes to School project, Town Manager Carlo Puiia said Wednesday.

In early 2013, the town agreed to move forward with constructing 3,500 feet of sidewalk from Dirigo High School to T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School, and constructing a sidewalk the length of Nash Street to the Regional School Unit 10 superintendent’s building. The cost would be split between the town and the Maine Department of Transportation, with MDOT paying 80 percent of the project and the town paying 20 percent.

The town abandoned the Nash Street section of the project last month because the $68,201 price tag was considered too high.

During a special town meeting on Oct. 1, residents overwhelmingly voted against appropriating $46,850 from surplus as a 20-percent match for building a sidewalk along Weld Street.

Puiia said that following the Oct. 1 town meeting, he spoke with MDOT officials, who told him that MDOT had “invested a lot into the project,” between engineering, design and obtaining rights of way from residents.

“The result was, if the town decided that they did not want to go forward with the project, then (the town) would be responsible for 100 percent of those costs,” Puiia said, adding that the total cost of engineering came out to “somewhere around $38,000.”


“The DOT officials told me they believe now is an opportune time to put that project out to bid, due to lower energy costs, and they believe the bids would come back more positive,” Puiia said.

He pointed out that the town had entered into an agreement with MDOT on May 23, 2013, after residents approved using $72,058 as part of their 20 percent match.

“DOT told me that if the project cost exceeded what the current agreement is, we could appeal to them saying that we want the project, but we’re having funding difficulties,” Puiia said. “There would be an appeal process.”

However, since residents voted against increasing the amount of money to appropriate for the 20 percent match, Puiia said the board is hesitant to move forward with the project until they speak with the public again.

“There were some concerns at the special town meeting about the increase in the annual maintenance of the roads, including snow and ice removal,” Puiia said. “By holding another public meeting, they’ll be able to take public comment and see what steps they wish to take with the project.”

Puiia said MDOT had originally planned to put the project out to bid with the intention of reviewing bids on Dec. 9.


A date will be selected for the public hearing at a future meeting.

In other business, Puiia said he brought the latest draft of the town’s code of ethics to the selectmen, which included a process of how to handle complaints or alleged violations.

“The way I laid it out is providing the steps for dealing with a complaint from the lowest level to the highest,” Puiia said. “The first step would be for one selectman to approach another and try to deal with it that way. If that doesn’t work, an executive session could be requested and if that doesn’t work, a formal complaint could be filed.”

The board suggested to Puiia that the policy should encompass both appointed and elected members of boards and committees.

“The next draft I put in front of the board should be the final draft,” Puiia said.


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