Wiscasset selectmen

A March end eyed for Wawenock project’s ‘blight on the community’

Maloney: Simmons requests no raise after ‘very positive’ job review
Thu, 11/23/2023 - 8:45am

Wawenock LLC expects masonry work to be finished next March on its Main Street, Wiscasset building that shed hundreds of bricks in April 2021. Wawenock’s latest update to the town follows Town Manager Dennis Simmons’ admonishing letter the selectboard requested Nov. 7 and praised him for Nov. 21.

Simmons’ Nov. 8 letter to Wawenock lawyer Sandra Gauy calls for a finish date “more in line with the end of 2023.” Simmons thanked Guay for all the updates, but told her the board has “deep concerns” over the project’s “constant delays.”

“We are now two and a half years into having this blight on the community and its current condition is both an eyesore and remains a potential hazard,” Simmons wrote. He said the property’s state “not only diminishes the aesthetic appeal of our historic downtown, especially with the upcoming holiday season, it is raising questions” about an impact on businesses; and instead of an inviting downtown, a 2024 end date on the work has the town facing “a third year of this unsightly and embarrassing blight. Our community deserves better than this.”

Guay’s Nov. 21 update, which Selectmen’s Chair Sarah Whitfield read aloud, thanked the town for that letter and said the contractor and the project’s new mason are finalizing a timeframe; the job is expected to start before mid-December and end before the end of March. In early November, Guay said the contractor was replacing masons because the planned one pushed the timeline out to late winter or early spring. Wawenock spokesman Mark Robinson told Wiscasset Newspaper Nov. 20, the contractor moved as quickly as possible to get the mason.

Weather and time for “unforeseen other issues” have been built into the eight to 10-week timeframe, Robinson’s Nov. 20 email to the paper and Guay’s new message to the town both stated. And both said Wawenock LLC looks forward to the project’s end.

Whitfield has said taking Wawenock to court would cost the town money and still not get the project done sooner.

“We’re over a barrel and they know it. So there’s not much we can do,” Selectman Terry Heller said online Nov. 21 to the rest of the board and Simmons, all at the town office. “But thank you Dennis, for writing a great letter.”

“My pleasure,” Simmons said. 

Selectmen nodded a liquor license for Barnhouse Grill & Pub, 690 Bath Road; and met in executive session for the board’s yearly review of Simmons’ job performance. Whitfield, who is in a relationship with Simmons, announced she would not be in the session because it was about him. Nov. 22, Selectman William “Bill” Maloney sent out a press release stating selectmen considered their own and department heads’ comments “and provided feedback on areas that are going well and areas that could use some improvement. Overall, the evaluation was very positive and the board is pleased with Dennis’ performance.”

Maloney said Simmons did not request a raise. According to Wiscasset Newspaper files, Simmons’ yearly salary rose $20,000 last year, to $105,000.

“He received a substantial increase last year similar to the increase union employees received. However, their increase was spread over a period of a few years.  He wished to be treated in a similar way. This demonstrates the thought, care and dedication that Dennis puts into his job. The Town of Wiscasset and the welfare of its citizens are obviously important to him,” the release stated.