BETHEL — Monday, selectmen discussed the price of a Route 2 sidewalk project with Dan Loring from the Maine Department of Transportation. Selectmen had taken initial steps toward the project by approving an application for an MDOT grant of $8,126 in 2019.

One of the first things Loring told selectmen was that his original total project cost estimate of $250,000 was going to be a lot higher, more in the range of $350,000 to $400,000.

Selectman Pete Southam asked why the cost had risen so much.

Loring said increase in construction costs were the primary reason the price was significantly higher.

Bethel currently has $30,000 reserved for the project in their capital improvement fund.

The proposed sidewalk would stretch from the Route 2 overpass to the multi-use trail behind the Big Apple on Route 2. It would be 1,500 feet long. The sidewalk would be on the side opposite to Rite Aid.

Selectman Neil Scanlon wondered what the impetus was for doing a sidewalk project in the first place.

Southam said one reason is to provide extra walking space for Gould students to use while crossing the Route 2 overpass (where the sidewalk would begin). Gould students travel over the overpass frequently, according to Southam.

If the town were to continue with the project, construction would likely begin in 2023.

Resident Jim Bennett suggested having the town send a letter to the five homeowners impacted by the sidewalk construction the most.

Town Manager Loretta Powers said she could draft a quick overview of the work to send to the residents.

Selectmen agreed to hold off on any decisions regarding the sidewalk work until their next meeting on Monday Dec. 7.

Nov. 9

At their Nov. 9 meeting, selectmen discussed updating an interlocal agreement between the towns of Newry, Bethel and Hanover regarding the disposal and recycling of solid waste materials.

The purpose of the agreement is to provide for the “cost effective, efficient and lawful management, disposal and recycling of waste materials generated within the corporate boundaries” of the three towns. The agreement will also detail the relationship, rights and responsibilities each of these three towns has in order to fulfill this purpose.

One of the major changes in the proposed updated agreement, which was last revised in 2005, is a decision making clause that defines who has the authorization to make certain decisions regarding waste. Prior to this proposed change, the agreement never clearly stated what the towns’ roles were when it came to the decision making process, according to Newry Town Administrator Amy Bernard, who attended the meeting by Zoom along with Newry Selectman Gary Wight.

One example Bernard used when it came to making decisions was increasing the cost of stickers at the transfer station, something Newry and Hanover agreed on, but Bethel did not.

The Solid Waste Recycling Board agreed to include the decision making authority clause in the revised version of the agreement.

The new section in the updated agreement states that decisions/changes to the way the Transfer Station conducts business will be “authorized by the SWR Board.” Other details include that meeting agendas will be posted either at the town office or on town websites one week prior to a meeting, and any changes to transfer station business will be determined by a quorum (one member from each town and no less than four voting members present).

Both Bernard and Wight are part of the SWR Board, along with Bethel Town Manager Loretta Powers and Select Woman Lori Swain. No representatives from Hanover were at the meeting, but Selectman Ed Kennett is a member of the board, also. The SWR Board is usually comprised of six members, with two from each town.

“We need to be able to make these decisions. Right now we can’t do too much,” Swain said.

Scanlon agreed with Swain and said the town should also look into cost allocations.

“We should find out how these allocations came about. We don’t know where they came from 15 years ago and we do not know if they are still valid today,” Scanlon said.

“What level of decisions is the SWR board able to make. What powers do they have? It needs to be clearly defined what decisions the board will be eligible to make,” Scanlon added.

Selectman Pete Southam agreed that assessing fees is something that needs to be addressed.

“Fees are a long-term decision that require research,” Southam said.

Bernard suggested having the interlocal agreement reviewed by Newry’s attorney, Jim Katsiaficas. Bernard said Katsiaficas has written many interlocal agreements for other towns over the years.

The board unanimously approved having Katsiaficas draft an a contract for the towns.

Residents from Bethel, Hanover and Newry would have to approve adopting the updated agreement at their individual annual town meetings.

 

 

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