PHILLIPS — Nearly two-dozen residents Wednesday showed their support for a downtown sidewalk rebuilding project, even though it will cost more than planned and require 20 years of town-funded maintenance.

Selectmen David Vincent and Ray Gaudette and Town Manager Maureen Haley explained to voters at the public hearing Wednesday evening the history of the original application to receive state funding to rebuild the downtown sidewalks.

The original agreement included a commitment to maintain the sidewalks 12 months of the year. According to Vincent, that would encumber additional town funds, but those figures hadn’t been added to the total obligation of the town.

The sidewalk rebuilding proposal began in 2012, when selectmen applied in 2012 for a federally funded transportation enhancement grant.

In 2013, taxpayers appropriated $60,445 as their required share of the 20 percent matching funds, based on a $300,000 estimate. The plan includes rebuilding sidewalks from the Route 142 bridge to Trecartin Park and from the corner of Pleasant Street to the corner of Depot Street.

The state has not appropriated Maine Department of Transportation funds for the project for the past four years. Now that funds are available for 2018, the price for the project has increased to $400,000.


The town will need to approve at least $23,000 or more to cover their 20 percent share of the increased construction costs. Even the current estimate of $400,000 isn’t guaranteed, and the town may have other costs attached to the town’s water system and the annual maintenance costs.

Resident Dick Matthews suggested the sidewalks were unsafe, and he said the goal was not to “pretty up” the town.

“It’s not about making it pretty,” Matthews said. “It’s a question of making it no longer ugly, which is not quite the same thing.”

If the goal was to attract more businesses and visitors and generating more revenue, that would be worth the investment, according to one resident.

“As a taxpayer and a landowner outside the sidewalk zone, sidewalks would not benefit me at all,” resident Matthew Haggan said. “However, the sidewalks are a mess, and this seems like the right thing to do.”

Haley noted that if the voters wanted to wait until 2019, they could anticipate lower costs. MDOT will be doing a Route 4 reconstruction project, so the downtown work could piggyback on the equipment and materials that would be available, including engineering oversight and contracting costs.


The town needs to add another $30,000 to the $60,000 set aside for their share of the project.

One resident asked how much taxes might increase, and Haley said she could estimate that someone with a $100,000 home would see an increase of $170 a year.

The town does not have businesses or industry to offset the property owners’ tax burden, as do towns like Rangeley, Gaudette noted.

Vincent said he and other officials were grateful for the good turnout. After they have a more final list of costs, they should be able to schedule a special town meeting and get a vote up or down on whether to go ahead with the project.

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