Maine Department of Transportation Project Manager Ernie Martin spoke to Friends of Wiscasset Village Nov. 15 about the downtown work he said was being “buttoned up” for the winter. He said the work on Main Street was nearly complete. Still to be finished are the parking lot at the former Haggett building, some of the bricking on the side streets, and some striping and signs.
Martin said the one-way sign on Railroad Avenue was missing, and that it was not unusual during work like this. Most work will be completed in the spring, although he may request some of the missing signs be replaced and no parking signs be installed on Water Street to avoid tripping the traffic signals. Currently, the traffic signals are flashing, but as soon as arrangements can be made with the railroad, they will be coordinated and begin operating normally. Cameras on top of the street lights identify when cars are on the side streets close to the intersection, and if cars are close enough, they make the traffic signals start cycling in a summer-like pattern. Therefore, “no parking” signs are needed close to the intersections to prevent it.
Benches and trash cans will be part of a second contract and installed next spring. There will be eight benches and four trash cans. Martin suggested the group consult with the town to determine where; and determine anything else shop owners want outdoors. “We have to consolidate with the municipality,” Martin said. “I’m glad that your group is taking the lead on this issue, but we all have to go through the town.” Other items may include planters, sidewalk sales racks, and open signs. Wiscasset does not have an ordinance for sidewalks, and Martin strongly urged the Friends to meet with town officials and selectmen to sort out what would be permissible.
As for the large black electrical box at the corner of Main and Water streets. Martin said Maine law bars changes to the box, but that some towns have gotten permission to wrap the boxes with fabric to make them less noticeable. Again, he said, that would have to go through the town, since MDOT does not have permission to make agreements with local groups of residents. The Friends agreed to meet with town officials and attempt to get onto an upcoming selectboard agenda. The Friends hope to wrap the side of the box facing Main Street with material that might highlight some aspect of Wiscasset’s history, or artists exhibiting locally.
Because the town does not have a sidewalk ordinance, questions arose about who is responsible for clearing them in winter. Martin said the town is responsible for them from the curb to the buildings. Some agreement with the shop owners must be reached about parties’ responsibilities. Friends will also take that up with selectmen.
Terry Heller said that thanks to the Garden Club of Wiscasset, there is enough money for garlands to be lighted and attached to the chains between the bollards on Main Street. The bollards will sport red bows. Heller is looking for help to cut and place the garlands on Saturday, Nov. 23, beginning at 10 a.m. Weather permitting, the garlands will be cut on Main Street. If the weather is poor, Heller is hoping to do the cutting at the Nickels-Sortwell House barn. For more information, or to volunteer, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. “If we didn't think this would be terrific fun we would let somebody else do it. But this is our village and we are dying to decorate it and show it off,” she said.
At the end of Friday’s meeting, Judy Flanagan began circulating her petition to rescind the Wiscasset Historic Preservation Ordinance. She seeks a vote at the town meeting in June.