POLAND — Parks and Recreation Department Director Scott Segal told selectmen Tuesday night that he is looking for transportation for summer field trips because school buses will no longer be available.

Regional School Unit 16 Superintendent Tina Meserve denied the town’s request to contract bus services because of administrative and legal costs, according to an email.

Segal said he learned from John Hawley, RSU 16 director of operations, that the rate the town had been paying was too low.

“For the 12 years I’ve been here, the school has always provided help,” Segal said, “but I was told it can’t be done as in the past; there’s not a way to bill us properly.”

Town Manager Bradley Plante read an email from Meserve that said RSU 16 Central Office staff was extremely busy and couldn’t commit time to researching such an arrangement.

The email read in part: “A contract would require our staff to determine all costs and liabilities associated with a partnership: including obvious costs like bus maintenance, fuel, driver salary and all benefits to know if a contract proposal is appropriate. There certainly would be administrative costs to review the contract and oversee the contract. We would need to involve legal counsel to advise us on the details of a contract and we all know legal counsel is not cheap.”

Meserve said RSU 16 was willing to support the Parks and Recreation Department as much as it could without taking away from its own system. She offered to sell the town one of its surplus buses for $1.

Plante told the board that Public Works Department mechanic Adam Strout had inspected the four surplus buses and estimated what it would take to make and keep them roadworthy.

“It would be my advice that we don’t want to own one of those buses,” Plante said.

Segal said he was checking with other school districts along the Route 26 corridor and private companies. He said it probably would be difficult have 16 field trips again this year.

Selectmen said he is free to use the $5,000 balance left from 2015 to maintain the program.

Selectman James Walker Jr. asked whether the Mechanic Falls summer recreation program was similarly affected and learned that it was.

Walker said he realized finding school bus drivers could be difficult in the summer.

“But I understand Hudson Bus, over in Lewiston, has people willing to work through the summer,” Walker said.

Also Tuesday, Segal went over design sketches, cost estimates and a projected timeline to fix severe erosion at the town beach on Tripp Lake. He said if voters in April approve his $10,000 request to cover the town’s part of the project, he intends to have the issue on the agenda for the Planning Board’s next meeting. He hopes to steer the project through that review and secure state environmental permits by the time the Maine Department of Transportation completes ditching along Route 11 and Tripp Lake this summer.

Segal said he is also asking Poland Spring Bottling Co. for financial support and he will work with members of the Tripp Lake Improvement Association on a mini-grant. The Poland Public Works Department will do much of the work restoring the beach, and volunteers will assist with much of the fencing, gates and walkways.


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