COVID-19 grant funds will hopefully allow purchase of an HVAC unit, a lighted sign and other items to improve elections at the Farmington Community Center. More stanchions could reduce wait time of voters such as seen here in November. File photo

FARMINGTON — Tuesday, Nov. 23, selectmen approved changing the north end of Russells Mills Road to Abbie Lane.

Three residents are descendants of Abbie Thompson and there is already a Thompson Road, Thompson’s granddaughter Kathleen Hallman said.

“I checked with all the neighbors and four out of five are for the change,” she said.

“It’s not really a road. It’s a lane,” Farmington Fire Rescue Chief Terry Bell said.

“If you have a (Russells Mills Road) North and South, there could be some E-911 confusion with two roads with the same name,” Hallman said.

Charles King phoned to share his thoughts.

“The Russells built the road,” he said. “It’s a part of the history of the town. We own on both sides of the road on the north end.”

Naming it Russells Mills Road North makes sense, he added.

“I know there’s historical value. I lived there with my grandmother,” Hallman said. “The other end will stay Russells Mills. The town has changed road names. You have changed history before.”

“We need to do something because of the elimination of the bridge,” Selectman Chairman Matthew Smith said.

“It’s four to four. One group wants to change it, this group wants to keep it the same,” Selectman Michael Fogg said.

Only four families live on that section of the road, Hallman said.

Town Manager Richard Davis called in to say a name change is needed, one way or another.

“The Temple side will stay Russells Mills Road,” Bell said. “It could be confusing if a dispatcher doesn’t say Russells Mills Road North or South. It’s better not to have names with north or south, duplicates.”

GPS takes people in on the Temple side, Hallman said.

“I do see the potential for confusion with the same road name with north and south,” Selectman Stephan Bunker said. “Legally, it’s not right or wrong but could be confusing particularly for those who have lived there. Coming in from the wrong direction with a bridge that is no longer there could lead to difficulties.”

“If we keep one side as Russells Mills Road, that will keep the historical value of that area,” Smith said. “I do think that’s important.”

The Clover Mill Road side would be Abbie Lane, Bell said.

Davis said the south section should become a lane too. He will notify the owners and put it on a future agenda.

In other business, the board authorized the town to move forward with using COVID-19 grant funds to improve voting at the Community Center.

Parks and Recreation Director Matthew Foster said he had spoken with Town Clerk Leanne Dickey.

“The town has grants for up to $150,000 for election purposes for COVID-19 related items,” Foster said.

Items being considered include an $85,000 HVAC unit, $35,000 lighted sign, $2,265 folding machines, $500-750 for more stanchions plus more personal protective equipment and miscellaneous items.

The Community Center doesn’t have anything for air circulation, Foster noted.

“With COVID-19 that’s not great,” he said. “Once the windows are closed in winter, there’s no fresh air coming in other when the doors are opened. It’s kind of a safety thing.”

There are federal laws that talk about public facilities not reaching above 90 degrees, he added.

“There are five to 20 days a year during mid year voting or special town meetings when the Community Center reaches more than 90 degrees,” Foster said. “I’m never sure if it’s going to be too hot in there or not.”

The lighted sign would help clear up confusion about voting times, the folding machines would save time on hand-folding of ballots to be mailed for absentee voting, and extra stanchions would reduce the time voters had to wait.

Foster said Dickey’s research found those items are covered by grant funds. The town may not be able to accomplish them all due to the Dec. 31 grant deadline, he added.

Bunker noted the award letter was dated Sept. 30.

“We want to get as much out of this as possible,” he said.

Comments are not available on this story.