It took Woolwich voters 40 minutes to approve a $69,000 land purchase at a special town meeting Monday night. The two-acre lot off George Wright Road sold at its fair market value by residents Dennis and Sylvia Fuller will provide a possible future Route 1 access point. Monies for the purchase will come from the town’s undesignated fund balance.
In keeping with COVID-19 protocols, attendance at Nequasset Meetinghouse was limited to 50 people. Thirty-nine residents voted in favor of the land purchase, and 15 were against it; ballots were tabulated by Town Clerk Anthony Blasi. Residents were permitted to vote and not stay for the proceedings, four chose to do so.
“What this land purchase does is give us an option for the future,” explained Select Board Chairman David King Sr.
Whether or not a new road is built largely depends on Maine Department of Transportation’s plans for George Wright Road where it intersects with Route 1 near the dike.
Devan Eaton, MDOT project manager for the planned replacement of Station 46 Bridge north of the Taste of Maine Restaurant, said the state was aware of the problems and looking into a number of options. A lot of discussion in the early phase of the project has dealt with what happens at the south end of George Wright Road, he acknowledged. This includes replacing a town-owned box culvert and small bridge and addressing flooding during extreme weather. Eaton added this area is not part of the Station 46 Project.
King warned replacing the bridge and culvert would be much more expensive for the town than buying the lot and building a new road. The lot has 200 feet of Route 1 frontage. “It’s level, provides good visibility both ways and is one of the few places on this side of George Wright Road that hasn’t been developed,” he said. The access point would be just south of the industrial park.
Several abutters worried traffic from the new road would greatly impact the quality of their lives and devalue their properties. They asked if something could be done with the present entrance at the south end of George Wright Road.
Selectman Allison Hepler hoped the town would not have to build a new road but said it was important to have the option if something could not be worked out with MDOT to address the culvert and bridge.
EMS Director Brian Carlton warned it would be a mistake to close off the lower end of George Wright Road. This would only make the intersection of Nequasset Road and Route 1 near the municipal building and fire station busier and more dangerous. This intersection which has a flashing caution light has had a number of traffic accidents, he said.