NEW GLOUCESTER — Selectmen on Monday opened sealed bids for a future fairgrounds playground and a large culvert on Morse Road. 

Town staff is tasked with choosing a company after reviewing both projects with a recommendation to the board.

The playground project drew five bids ranging from $34,201 to $48,500. Recreation Director Harvey Price and his committee will review the bids and make a recommendation to the board as soon as possible. 

The playground project is a component of fairground improvements at the 31-acre Bald Hill Road site and is supported by a federal land and water conservation grant through the U.S. National Park Service with a 50 percent federal share of $55,000

The Morse Road culvert bid exceeded the board’s $128,000 budget. Five bids ranged from $139,000 to $258,600. 

The culvert opens about a mile-long fishway passage over the Royal River. Town Planner Will Johnston was tasked with pursuing options with the low bidders and reporting back to selectmen.

The work involves removal and replacement of the culvert that is too small to handle extreme flooding conditions and prevents fish passage in nearly all flow conditions. 

During the audience participation portion of the meeting, Peter Bragdon, a member of the town’s Retail Marijuana and Social Club Ordinance Committee questioned the board on action to place a townwide ban on the town warrant until the state adopts an ordinance expected in 2018. To date, the board has not voted to put the ban on the warrant but is considering it to fill a gap of time before the state regulations are set.

The annual town meeting warrant gets board approval on April 3. The warrant is being fine-tuned.

The town meeting is scheduled for May 1. The draft warrant has 38 articles.

Voters last May adopted a six-month moratorium on retail marijuana and social clubs with an additional six-month extension of the moratorium. 

Town Manager Paul First said the town would then have a gap from Nov. 2, 2017, until the state adopts an ordinance expected in early 2018. He said based on the town attorney’s recommendation, the town could adopt a total ban or do nothing.

The town’s marijuana and social club committee has two members who share opposing views, First said. “There is no room for consensus,” he said.

Bragdon said at the committee’s last meeting that voters would get two options, either a ban or restrictions. 

The board urged Bragdon to continue to work on the issue.


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