China company retains contract for bridge replacement at the head of China lake

by Mary Grow

The bid for the China Lake causeway bridge replacement is still awarded to Comprehensive Land Technologies, of South China, after a last-minute discussion almost led to reconsideration.

At the rescheduled China Tax Increment Finance Committee meeting held July 19, members of the subcommittee overseeing the project objected that China selectmen had awarded the contract without their recommendation.

Selectmen reviewed four bids at their July 9 meeting and unanimously awarded the contract to Jason Tyler’s Comprehensive Land Technologies, the lowest and only local bidder (see The Town Line, July 12, p. 3). (ep)

Tyler’s bid was $493,750. The next lowest bid, $529,000, was from T. Buck Construction Inc., of Auburn.

Engineer Joe McLean, of Wright-Pierce, the town’s consultant on the project, said T. Buck had more experience with bridges, but did not argue against Comprehensive Land Technologies. Selectmen had favorable recommendations from similar jobs Tyler has done, and they pointed out that the China project is not exactly a bridge, but a large precast concrete culvert.

Tyler asked for a prompt notice of the award, saying he had to order the culvert right away to have it by October.

At the July 19 TIF meeting, new Town Manager Dennis Heath said he was unsure that the four bids should have gone directly to the selectboard, rather than to the TIF subcommittee and the full TIF Committee.

Several TIF Committee members wanted to review the bids, even if doing so meant rescinding the notice of award and delaying the project.

Committee member Frank Soares blamed the TIF group for being disorganized and feared the town would incur financial penalties if selectmen changed the award.

Consequently, the TIF subcommittee on the bridge project – Soares, Tom Michaud, and Jim Wilkens – met with Tyler before the July 23 selectmen’s meeting. Michaud presented the meeting as a chance to get acquainted with Tyler and a “pre-construction chat,” and there was no discussion of rescinding the award.

Tyler said Comprehensive Land Technologies started in 1995 as a logging business. Clearing land led to construction, construction became increasingly technical – he and his more than two dozen employees have built a boat landing and worked on Central Maine Power Company substations, among other things.

His largest single job was a $12 million project, he said. He likes to maintain a local presence, too, so he’ll cut down a resident’s unhealthy or unwanted tree for a few hundred dollars.

Wright-Pierce will be overseeing the bridge replacement on behalf of the town. Tyler will report to them; they will report to Heath; Heath will report to selectmen and TIF Committee members. Tyler emphasized that as construction proceeds, there might be changes in plans requiring local consideration.

The other major topic at the July 19 TIF meeting was acquisition of land for parking near the head of the lake. Soares said without better parking, the state will not enlarge or improve the boat landing.

Susan Bailey’s property, including the small lot now used unofficially for boat landing parking plus a larger parcel across Routes 202 and 9, is on the market for $120,000. Committee members said much of the lot is designated as wetland or resource protection; Michaud said he had arranged with Mark McCluskey, of A. E. Hodsdon Engineers, also assisting the town, to talk with state environmental officials.

Michaud moved that the town be authorized to make a deposit on the land pending environmental review, so Bailey would know the town’s offer is serious. Committee members could not think of a source of funds, and Michaud withdrew his motion.

At the committee’s June 18 meeting, Soares proposed that he, Michaud and Wilkens talk with other landowners across the highway about possible sales. No one had followed up as of July 19.

In November 2016 China voters authorized spending up to $10,000 for the smaller piece of Bailey’s property. She is unable to separate the two pieces. Voters have not been asked to approve spending $120,000 for the entire lot.

Most of the other business at the July 19 TIF meeting was procedural, including updates on preparing application forms for TIF funds and for the revolving loan fund the committee is establishing.

Heath said committee member Amber McAllister is resigning as chairman; someone else needs to be chosen to prepare agendas and run meetings.

The July 19 meeting had been scheduled for July 16, but no one sent reminders or an agenda and several members did not know of the meeting or had conflicts, so it was canceled that afternoon. Committee member Ronald Breton, unaware of the change, drove 113 miles from his summer camp. At the July 23 selectmen’s meeting, selectmen reimbursed him at the town’s mileage rate for his 226-mile round trip.

TIF Committee members scheduled their next meeting for 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 30.

Town embarks on Comprehensive Planning process

 

Messalonskee Stream cascade, Oakland, ME; from a c. 1906 postcard published by G. W. Morris, Portland, Maine.

Engages community to envision the town’s future

The Town of Oakland is currently in the process of crafting a Comprehensive Plan with the goal of creating a blueprint for the future. Fifteen community members have volunteered to join the Oakland Comprehensive Planning Committee (OCPC), which is facilitating the process.

A Comprehensive Plan is a broad, long-range plan intended to guide the growth and development of a community. At its core, a Comprehensive Plan reviews the history of the municipality, evaluates its current status, and outlines a vision for its future. It typically describes the community’s natural resources, housing, economy, infrastructure, transportation, recreation and public spaces, and community facilities, and provides recommendations for those components.

For Town Manager Gary Bowman, a Comprehensive Plan represents an important milestone for Oakland. “We have embarked on a two-year process to inventory the Town of Oakland and gather public input on a wide range of topics; this magnitude of data hasn’t been compiled in over two decades, and it is critical for leading the Town in its desired direction for the next twenty years.”

Volunteers on OCPC have convened for several months to build an inventory and to create methods of collecting public input. Their dedication to the process has impressed Bob Nutting, who participates in OCPC. “It’s very special to have fifteen community members volunteer two years of their time, energy, and skill. Their volunteerism illustrates the passion OCPC members have for the Town of Oakland,” said OCPC Chair Bob Nutting.

OCPC emphasizes the importance of community involvement in the Comprehensive Plan process. Input from the community is critical, as it shapes the vision for the Town’s future.

This summer, all Oakland residents and businesses will have the opportunity to express their thoughts on Oakland’s core values, possibilities, needs, and direction. OCPC looks forward to the community’s participation in its efforts to collect input, including public workshops and a community-wide survey, which will be going live digitally and mailed to Oakland residents on Monday, July 2nd. The first public workshop will be held at the Town of Oakland’s Cascade Room (6 Cascade Mill Rd, Oakland, ME 04963) on Thursday, June 21st at 4:00pm.

Once the asset inventory analysis has been completed and public input has been collected, OCPC will craft a Comprehensive Plan that is easily-readable and usable. Comprehensive Plans are commonly used to promote quality of life, prosperity, and dialogue between neighbors, and to gain an advantage when applying to state and federal funding opportunities.

Information regarding methods by which the residents and businesses of the Town of Oakland can voice their opinions on the future of the community may also be accessed via OCPC’s Comprehensive Planning website: http://www.centralmaine.org/oakland-comprehensive-plan/.

Bog Brook culvert replacement set to begin in August

The detour you’ll need to take during the construction.

The Bog Brook culvert replacement schedule has been released by the town of China. The 25-day project is expected to begin on Monday, August 13, and continue until Friday, September 21. During that period of time, through traffic will be detoured around the project, and only local traffic will be permitted in the area.

Preliminary work will begin on Tuesday, August 14 with site demolition scheduled for Monday, September 3. The new culvert will be installed from Monday, September 10 through Friday, September 14. Road work and paving should take place from Monday, September 17 until Wednesday, September 19. Restoration and clean up will then take place around Thursday, September 20, and continue for about four days.

For the duration of the project, the Hanson Road from the Cross Road to the Bog Brook Road, where the project is taking place, will be closed to through traffic and open only to local traffic, as well as the end of the Bog Brook Road to Pleasant View Ridge Road. Please see the map for more information. Feel free to contact the town office at 445-2014 or info@chinamaine.org with any questions or concerns.

Vassalboro public hearing planned for Brock Trailer Park

by Mary Grow

After another discussion with Codes Officer Richard Dolby at their July 12 meeting, Vassalboro selectmen have scheduled an August 23 public hearing on Brock’s trailer park off Webber Pond Road. The hearing will be at 6:30 p.m. in the town office.

Dolby said a septic system serving two mobile homes has failed, and the park owner has not made repairs or taken other action because, Dolby said, he does not have the needed money.

Selectmen issued a notice of violation in June. Now they have at least two options, Dolby said: they could ask the town attorney to prepare another notice of violation that would go to court, eventually; or they could declare the two mobile homes unsafe and if repairs were not made in a reasonable time order the tenants evicted.

The second course, declaring the two homes dangerous buildings, requires a public hearing. Selectmen first planned to hold it late in July, but Dolby learned that state law requires a three-week notice, leading selectmen to reschedule the hearing as part of their August 23 meeting.

Dolby has reported the situation to the Maine Manufactured Housing Board.

In other business July 12, selectmen discussed at length board member John Melrose’s proposal for long-range planning. He and the other two selectmen suggested a variety of possible topics, including energy use, public safety, public works and education.

They agreed now that Vassalboro Community School is a town school, not part of a larger organization, selectmen and school board members need to share information more regularly. Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus was authorized to contact School Board Chairman Kevin Levasseur about a joint meeting.

On another long-range planning issue, China Selectman Neil Farrington reported on China’s effort to expand and improve internet services, suggesting the two towns might cooperate at some point.

Titus announced that this year’s Vassalboro Days celebration will be Sept. 8, the Saturday after Labor Day weekend.

Vassalboro planning board approves five applications

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members approved all five applications on their July 10 agenda, including the Vassalboro Sanitary District’s plan for connecting Vassalboro’s sewer systems to Winslow’s and a new four-lot subdivision on Hussey Hill Road. The Sanitary District’s engineer, Richard Green, of Hoyle, Tanner and Associates, explained that the district intends to install new pipes along Route 32, in East and North Vassalboro, update equipment at existing pump stations and eliminate three sand filter treatment beds. The sand filters will have their pipes removed and be graded and seeded to look like lawns, he said.

After the connection to Winslow, Green said there will be no more discharges into Outlet Stream.

Green said bids on the work are slated to go out immediately, with construction to start in the fall and to take about a year.

Codes Enforcement Officer Richard Dolby said most of the pipeline work will be in the road right-of-way, not in the planning board’s jurisdiction. The board is needed to certify that the project is compatible with the town’s comprehensive plan – or, in Vassalboro’s case, its strategic plan – as part of the process of getting grant funding, Dolby said.

He said he and Town Manager Mary Sabins drafted a letter to that effect. Planning board members authorized Chairman Virginia Brackett to sign it.

The Hussey Hill Road subdivision is on the north side of the road beginning at the Bog Road intersection. Landowner Mona Deangelo is subdividing about 12 acres of her about 44-acre parcel into four lots, each at least two acres. William Boynton and Tyler Cutts, of Boynton Pickett, the surveying company representing her before the planning board, said each lot passed a soils test for a septic system; each will have a well.

Approval took more than an hour, mostly because board members were using for the first time the subdivision ordinance as it was amended in 2014. They questioned several of the new ordinance requirements they and voters approved, like an affidavit there had been no recent timber harvesting – not needed, they decided, since neighbors agreed the land has been a cornfield for years – and a list of E911 addresses that Dolby said would better be done after subdivision, not before.

In addition, an abutting landowner claimed one of the boundary lines is inaccurate. The abutter intends to have his own survey done.

Planning board members had a memo from Vassalboro Road Commissioner Eugene Field about a culvert under Hussey Hill Road that appeared likely to affect roadside drainage from at least two and maybe three of the lots. Approval of the subdivision was conditional on driveway culverts downhill from the cross-road culvert being large enough to carry the expected flow.

The remaining three agenda items were approved promptly and without conditions, as follows:

  • Don and Denise Deane have approval to enlarge an existing bathroom by enclosing part of the deck at their seasonal cottage at 59 Birch Point Road.
  • Mark Fuchswanz has approval to tear down an old camp on the lot adjoining his at 11 Birch Point Road, and to build a two-vehicle garage that will be farther from the water than the camp.
  • Bernard and Jody Welch have approval to amend their Main Street subdivision – the former Volmer’s nursing home and surrounding land – by creating an additional 6.8-acre lot that has no building on it and, Dolby said, will be used as farmland.

Vassalboro residents learn about sewer expansion project

by Mary Grow

Ten people showed up for the Vassalboro selectmen’s June 28 public hearing on a Community Development Block Grant for the sewer extension project, not all of them members of the Vassalboro Sanitary District Board of Trustees.

Despite the audience being larger than usual for a local hearing, no one had questions, so the hearing lasted the typical two minutes.

Engineer Richard Green of Hoyle, Tanner and Associates, of Brunswick, distributed a summary of the project. The goal is to connect Vassalboro’s sewer system to Winslow’s and thence to the regional treatment plant in Waterville.

Work includes installing new sewer pipes along Route 32 from East Vassalboro to Winslow and major changes – replacements, upgrades and demolitions – at the existing treatment facilities in Vassalboro. Total project cost is estimated at more than $7 million. The Community Development Block Grant is $975,000; Vassalboro Tax Increment Finance (TIF) money and state and federal grants and loans are expected to cover the rest of the cost, with the Sanitary District borrowing what Green called “quite a bit.”

The public hearing was followed by a selectmen’s meeting at which selectmen returned to two issues raised earlier in June. They unanimously authorized Town Manager Mary Sabins to negotiate with state officials to end Vassalboro’s lease of the Three Mile Pond former rest area and boat landing.

They took no action on a possible request to voters to approve an ordinance limiting medical marijuana storefronts in town. Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus said so far residents have expressed little interest in the issue.

They also took no action on Selectman John Melrose’s suggestion that Vassalboro needs a Budget Committee Ordinance to codify the responsibilities of the committee, which has existed for decades without written authority. The issue might be on the agenda for their July 12 meeting.

The board had two bids on a tax-acquired property in North Vassalboro. They unanimously accepted the higher, from Thomas Harville, of Skowhegan.

As the fiscal year ended, selectmen appointed, or in most cases reappointed, members of town boards and committees. They asked Sabins to continue discussion with two residents who had expressed interest in joining boards.

China special meeting needed to settle final fiscal bills

by Mary Grow

China selectmen held a special meeting Friday, June 29, to deal with final bills as the fiscal year ended and to review and accept bids on two major culvert projects.

The bids were for new culverts to let Hunter Brook pass under Bog Brook Road and Pleasant View Ridge Road. Selectmen had six bids for Bog Brook Road and five for Pleasant View Ridge.

Prices for Bog Brook Road went from $111,217.50 from Ranger Contracting of Winslow to $380,000; selectmen unanimously chose Ranger Contracting. For the Pleasant View Ridge work, bids went from $153,000 from Nitram Excavation of Benton to $395,000; selectmen again unanimously chose the low bidder, Nitram Excavation.

At the March town business meeting, voters appropriated up to $150,000 for the Bog Brook Road culvert, approving a special article for major road work. The Pleasant View Ridge Road culvert is to come from the regular road appropriation plus a state grant of almost $100,000, with a local match that former Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said in the spring would probably not exceed 15 percent.

The only other major business June 29 was review and preliminary approval of a revised memorandum of understanding with China’s fire departments and rescue service, dealing primarily with the stipends for volunteers that voters at the March town business meeting approved for a second year.

Revisions are intended to make it absolutely clear that the payments are for services rendered; they are not wages and the volunteers are not town employees. New Town Manager Dennis Heath said the revised agreement, discussed with fire and rescue chiefs and drafted with legal advice, is consistent with state law, the Fair Labor Standards Act and Internal Revenue Service rules.

Selectmen proposed minor changes to the draft memorandum, which Heath said he planned to review again with the fire and rescue chiefs.

As of June 29, selectmen planned to meet again Monday evening, July 9. One potential agenda item is review of bids for the new bridge at the head of China Lake’s east basin.

China bridge contract awarded to local contractor

by Mary Grow

China selectmen unanimously awarded the bid to replace the causeway bridge at the head of China Lake’s east basin to the low – and local – bidder, Jason Tyler’s Comprehensive Land Technologies, Inc., of South China.

At their July 9 meeting board members briefly discussed the four bids received, which ranged from Tyler’s $493,750 to almost $655,000. Joe McLean, of Wright-Pierce, said all the bids were higher than he had expected based on past history; but, he said, the construction picture has changed this year. Contractors are not searching for work, and many have trouble finding competent employees for the work they have.

Asked whether the new bridge was a large or a small project for his company, Tyler said it was “on the high end of small.” He has experience with similar projects and the necessary state certification to work in the shoreland zone and in the water, he said.

McLean said the next steps are paperwork: a formal notice of the bid award from the town, a contract, a schedule and plans for traffic control that he will review and finally a notice to proceed.

Tyler asked for a bid award notice promptly, saying he needs to order the precast concrete sections immediately to receive them early in October.

McLean said the project has a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The state Department of Environmental Protection exempts bridge replacements from Natural Resources Protection Act permit requirements. Someone, perhaps a member of the Tax Increment Finance Committee subcommittee on the bridge, needs to apply to the China Planning Board for a town permit.

Work is to be done in late September and October. Part of the plan is to give area residents, including summer residents, ample notice of times the road will be closed.

In a related matter, a speed study is planned on the causeway, where the legal limit is currently 45 miles an hour. Town Manager Dennis Heath said China’s police force will do the study; he expects them to conduct it the week of July 16 and for another week three weeks later.

Former Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said if average traffic speed does not match the posted limit, the state Department of Transportation might adjust the limit.

In other business July 9:

  • Selectmen unanimously appointed Kimberly Bolduc-Bartlett to work with Peter A. Nerber as China’s animal control officers. Bolduc-Bartlett is Windsor’s animal control officer, Heath said. Each will be paid a monthly stipend plus mileage, he said.
  • After a 20-minute discussion, board members decided to proceed as in past years with sale of foreclosed properties, advertising for and accepting sealed bids with a 10 percent down payment, refundable if the bid is not accepted, and setting a minimum bid on each property that would cover town expenses. A public bid opening is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, at the town office, making the deadline for accepting bids 12:59 p.m. Aug. 16.
  • They accepted Heath’s recommendation to postpone repaving Parmenter Hill Road to the 2019/20 fiscal year, to stay within the 2018/19 paving budget.
  • They expressed interest in an email or phone notification system that would let town officials notify residents who signed up of events and changes, like the July 3 closing of the transfer station that Heath and Board Chairman Robert MacFarland said caught some residents off guard.
  • They unanimously renewed Wildwood Pawn’s pawnbroker’s license for another year.

According to the town website, the next selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, July 23. Heath prepared a financial summary of the fiscal year that ended June 30 and suggested board members review it in preparation for a July 23 discussion.

Road work scheduled in China

Site of culvert replacement on Rte. 3, in South China. (Photo by Roland Hallee)

Two road projects are scheduled for work this summer in China.

A large culvert will be replaced on Rte. 3 between Rockwood Drive and Fieldstone Quikstop, in South China. The contractor will be F. C. Work & Son, Inc., of Jackson. There will be an on-site trailer in place. Residents and property owners adjacent to this project may contact Lewis Benner, the consultant resident representing the state of Maine Department of Transportation, by calling 242-2047 or via email, LBenner@kleinfelder.com. In the event he cannot be reached, you may contact Thomas Stevens at 592-4508.

The other project will involve the installation of rumble strips in the centerline of Rte. 3, from China to Belmont, beginning at the island northeast of the intersection with Rtes. 9 and 202, to the 40 mph sign west of Rte. 131, a total of 25.07 miles.

Should you have any questions regarding this project, you may contact the Department of Transportation representative to rumble strips, Stephen E. Bodge II, assistant program manager, by calling 441-6850.

Robbery at Bar Harbor Bank & Trust in South China

Surveillance camera image of bank robbery suspect. (Photo courtesy Maine Department of Public Safety)

by Eric W. Austin

On Thursday, July 5, about 2:30 p.m., a man entered the Bar Harbor Bank & Trust in South China and demanded money. The suspect is described by police as a white male, about 5 feet 3 inches in height, of slim build, with dark hair and dark eyebrows.

During the robbery, he wore a blue bandanna covering his lower face, Ray-Ban style sunglasses, and a black and white baseball cap with a red bill. Based on the photo released by the police, he may also have a scar across the knuckles of his right hand, and since he was wearing a long-sleeve shirt on one of the hottest days of the year, he may be trying to hide tattoos or other identifying marks on his arms.

The spokesman for Maine Department of Public Safety, Steve McCausland, said in a statement that the suspect may have fled the scene in a vehicle parked nearby.

China police officer Craig Johnson, Maine State Troopers from Troops C and D, and nearby game wardens and forest rangers responded to the call.

The Morning Sentinel is reporting that a woman and two small children were seen at the bank around the time of the robbery, but police have stated that no customers were inside when the incident occurred. Three bank employees were present; however, no one was injured, and no weapon was displayed by the suspect during the robbery. The amount of money taken has not been publicly disclosed, but sources report it may have been around $1,000.

Branch manager Nicole Lee would not comment as it is an on-going investigation.

Police have several leads they are following up, according to Public Safety spokesman McCausland.

If you recognize the individual or have any information related to the incident, law enforcement is asking that you call State Police in Augusta at 624-7076.

This is a developing story and the information is still preliminary. We will be updating the story as we receive more information.

Suspect running away from the incident at Bar Harbor Bank & Trust in South China on Thursday. Photo from surveillance video. (Courtesy of Maine State Police.)