Estimated Edgecomb storm damage likely to climb over $100K

Road Commissioner estimates current total around $97K for several roads
Fri, 05/19/2023 - 11:15am

The late April torrential rainfall is bringing more than May flowers to Edgcomb. On April 30, the heavy rain resulted in significant damage to Spring Hill Farm, Cross Point and Mt. Hunger roads. On May 16, Selectman Mike Smith reported the estimated damage to these Edgecomb roads totaled $97,000. “The county needs to be at $100,000 to seek FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) relief. So Edgecomb alone is going to reach that mark. We are still assessing the damage, and our figure alone may exceed $100,000,” he said. 

On May 1, Road Commissioner Scott Griffin witnessed how the rain washed out Spring Hill Road leaving residents stranded for a 48-hour period. Griffin’s crew made the road passable and is now working on a permanent fix. Griffin told selectmen May 16, a new five-foot culvert was received May 15, and he is waiting on other needed materials. “We’re hoping to be done by the week’s end,” he said. “Homeowners won’t be able to get in or out during the work, but we are hoping it will be completed in seven to eight hours.”

Griffin reported his crew was also working on other damaged roads, but Spring Hill Farm Road had the most damage by far. Smith said local Emergency Management Agency Director Bill Witzel is compiling storm damage and will send it to Lincoln County EMA in seeking federal assistance. “It looks the federal government is going to reimburse us for all damage,” Smith said. 

In other action, Schmid Preserve Land Trustee Chairman Lisa McSwain said Alice Abbott still wants to donate a 13-plus acre parcel from her former horse farm property on Middle Road to the trust. Abbott has unsuccessfully offered the donation for eight years. And Edgecomb is in search of a suitable recreational option to replace the tennis courts abandoned over two decades ago. In 1974, Edgecomb received a federal Land Water Conservation Program grant to build a tennis court. It was built at the former Eddy School location on Cross Point Road. In 2004, the town sold the property for $1 to Elder Care Network of Lincoln County.

In 2011, a state inspection determined Edgecomb had violated grant terms. In selling the property, state officials claimed Edgecomb failed to provide required public access and property maintenance, Since then, the town has searched for a recreational replacement to comply with grant terms. Once a suitable replacement is found, Edgecomb will become eligible for federal grants. 

The Abbott property would connect the Damariscotta River Association property and Schmid Preserve. Any land donation to Edgecomb must be approved by a public vote.The annual town meeting is Saturday, so McSwain requested selectmen schedule a special town meeting, but town officials were leery. “Special town meetings should be called for an emergency purpose. Other requests should be held during the annual meeting when attendance is greater,” Town Clerk Claudia Coffin said. 

McSwain is worried more delays may result in losing the Abbott property. She asked “What do I tell Alice?” Smith responded, “Tell Alice we are working on this, and making progress.”

Selectmen approved a plan to spend nearly half of their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Edgecomb received two federal grant installments totaling  $133,000. Selectmen have spent about $2,000 on fire department training grants. ARPA recipients have until 2025 to spend the funds. Selectmen voted, 3-0, to fund the following ARPA-approved projects: emergency management system training, $10,000; fire department training, $12,000, ordinance review committee consultant, $8,000; fire department emergency communication repeater, $4,200; and broadband grants, $25,000.

Several residents have no broadband or internet access. The $25,000 would fund individual $2,000 grants aiding their pursuit of internet access.

“The deadline is approaching, for spending ARPA funds, and I think we should begin to fund these projects,” Smith said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I hope, to improve things. I’m really excited about these projects especially about the internet grants,” he said. 

Selectmen meet next at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 30. At 6:30 p.m., selectmen scheduled a special town meeting to consider a school committee request to use contingency account funds for unexpected costs associated with educating a special needs student using Fiscal Year 23 funds. Residents rejected a similar article last year. “This is just in case there is a need. It would allow the school to spend contingency funds with select board approval,” Smith said.