RUMFORD — Selectmen gave unanimous approval Thursday to submit a letter of intent for a Community Development Block Grant for downtown infrastructure improvements.

The downtown is the oldest part of town, with water and sewer systems more than a century old.

“The total project looks like it’s going to be around $3 million,” Town Manager John Madigan said. “For the water system alone, the Water District has given me an estimate of almost $800,000. Sewer is going to be similar — same length.”

Sidewalk construction was estimated earlier at $1.2 million.

Given the scope of the project, Madigan said officials expect they will request somewhere close to the $1 million limit allowed for an infrastructure grant.

The letter of intent has to be submitted by Jan. 15. He said the survey completed on the Island has met the grant criteria of at least 51 percent low- and moderate- income for residents. Many of those who live on the Island are retired.

Madigan said if the letter of intent is accepted by the Office of Community Development in Augusta, which he believes it will, the full grant application will be due March 4, with a decision made by early July.

“What I’m foreseeing is, we then start all the engineering necessary for the water, sewer, the storm (drains),” he said. “That will get us well into the fall. The engineers put together bid specs, bid packages. Winter, late winter, have all that taken care of, and be ready to start construction in the spring of 2017,” he said.

“Is this the entire Island, John?” Selectman Peter Chase asked.

It is, Madigan said.

“The system runs on Canal Street, Congress Street, from Hartford (Street) up to (Route) 108, and then moves back down River Street. It’s all one system.

“It looks like a good project, but unfortunately, I want to warn everybody right now, there’s only $2.7 million for infrastructure for the whole state. They said they typically have about eight applicants.”

Madigan added that because this is a two-year project, “If we’re not able to get it awarded this year, we still have another opportunity next year to tweak it, and have more engineering done at that point.”

He said he has experience doing CDBG grants and is confident with this effort.

“It’s a big puzzle, but I think we’ve got really good pieces of the puzzle put together for a good application. So let’s hope. A million dollars is nothing to shake a stick at.”

For Rumford’s share of the project, he said he intends to use monies from the Sidewalk Reserve Fund, the Sewer Extension Reserve Fund and because there’s a lot of road reconstruction, use of the Permanent Roads Account.

In other business, selectmen presented the Citizen of the Year Award to Richard Lovejoy.

After accepting the award, Lovejoy said, “I looked at the list of names up there for Citizens of the Year. The very first name on that list in Chummy Broomhall and I am so honored to be on a list that Chummy Broomhall is on.”

Lovejoy was nominated by Bob and Louise Stickney, last year’s recipients.

Lovejoy has volunteered and served with several organizations, including the River Valley Growth Council, the River Valley Technical Center, the Maine Adaptive Ski Program, the Rumford Hospital board of directors and the Rumford Performing Arts Committee.

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