Wiscasset selectmen

White’s Island latest: Pared ideas, no decision on town vote for local match

Thu, 04/07/2022 - 8:45pm

    Wiscasset selectmen on April 5 got pared down versions of a possible White’s Island project and got a lot of feedback on those and the concepts aired March 29. Resident Bill Maloney liked the revised options better, but opposed work this year except to remove planks to keep people off the deteriorating bridges. He said this is no time to be spending nearly $300,000, the local match to a grant Parks and Recreation Director Duane Goud has said the town could seek, if the town commits to its share.

    Sums mulled March 29 broke a million dollars depending on the proposal and a grant Goud said could be up to $500,000. As Goud has since proposed, the grant would be sought to cover $291,000; the town would still need to cover the other half. In-kind contributions including disposal costs and landscape architect Peter Wells’ $24,000 in donated services can count toward the local match, local officials have said.

    Goud’s document dated April 4 proposes a pair of questions for selectmen to consider putting on the June warrant:

    “1. To see if the Town of Wiscasset will authorize the Selectmen to apply, on (behalf) of the Town, for federal financing assistance under the provisions of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, Public Law 88578 for the Whites Island Public Access and Recreation Project; and further authorize the Selectmen to enter into the Land and Water Conservation Fund Project Agreement with the State subsequent to federal approval of the project.

    “2. To see if the Town will vote to redesignate and appropriate $291,000.00 from Town of Wiscasset Construction Reserve, creating a new Town of Wiscasset White’s Island Reserve Fund (under the Town of Wiscasset Endowment Fund Total) as the Town match for the 2022 (Phase One) White’s Island Land and Water Conservation Project, contingent upon the approval of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant.”

    As outlined in the new document, phase one calls for a $400,000 pedestrian crossing (420 feet at $750 a foot, with abutments for $85,000); a $75,000, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant railroad crossing; and “low-impact, minimal island development”: an ADA-compliant, looped walkway for​​​ $42,000; disposal of the old bridges and piling debris​​​​​​ for $35,000; and more “planning and engineering with minimal environmental improvements, ​$30,000.

    The would-be playground from last month’s concept is gone. Wells said it turned out the grant and an easement would bar it; in its place, Parks and Recreation is eying a rural-type garden of native plantings, according to Goud’s document and Wells. And prospective parking has changed from an 18-space lot at the Pleasant Street extension to that being a green space with less parking, maybe having parking at a green space on Fore Street, or a combination of options. 

    ​​After Maloney opposed a $291,000 match this year, Selectman Kim Andersson said just removing the bridges would cost over $100,000. “So this deal,” she said, looking over to Wells’ latest sketch, “if we can do this (including new bridges), we’re actually saving money.” The board was talking about having townspeople decide “as a whole group, all of them,” she added.

    It’s the board’s job to decide what goes on the warrant, Maloney’s fellow budget committee member Kim Dolce said. “(The proposal) sounds like a fabulous idea. I’m not saying it’s a bad one, I’m saying it’s a bad time.”

    The board wanted time to digest the new options, figures and feedback. Selectmen planned a 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12 meeting.

    In other talks on the June town meeting warrant, the board agreed to propose voters up the planning budget to $50,000 so Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission can put in more hours. That would be less than half the cost eyed for an economic development person, Town Manager Dennis Simmons said. He said a “better plan,” including what that person would do, could be developed for next year. “I want the voters and the townspeople to feel comfortable that this is a worthwhile position and it can do some good. I don’t feel like we’re there yet.”

    The board will send voters $71,737 in proposed giving to consider: $600 to the American Legion’s flag project; $2,000 to Help Yourself Shelf food pantry at St. Philip’s Church and Wiscasset Nazarene Outreach Food Pantry; $1,500, Healthy Kids; $63,000, Wiscasset Public Library; $1,515, New Hope for Women; $933, LifeFlight of Maine; $239, Waldo Community Action Partners; and $1,950, Spectrum Generations.

    Also April 5, the board nodded Bath Ale Works’ liquor license request; made Juneteenth a local holiday; appointed Peter McRae to the planning board, Michael Costigan to the airport committee and Wells to the cemetery committee; accepted Anthony Rauseo’s and Terri Wells’ resignations from the cemetery committee, with thanks for their service; and sent back to the waterfront committee proposed harbor fee hikes after opposition in a public hearing. The hikes’ size could be hard for fishermen and recreational boaters, Wiscasset Yacht Club president and budget committee member Tom Joyce said. Speakers also said the hikes could send boaters elsewhere.