China’s TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Committee members discussed future plans, including the second phase of the causeway project, at their July 29 meeting, despite the absence of all three construction subcommittee members who have been most involved in the work at the head of China Lake’s east basin.
Town Manager Dennis Heath said Phase I, which focused on replacing a large culvert with a bridge, is all done but the final paperwork. Phase II will involve replacing the current bulky guardrails with more attractive and less obtrusive ones; repairing the boat landing east of the bridge and providing more parking; creating a walkway and water access along the shoreline between boat landing and bridge; and installing lighting.
Engineer Mark McCluskey of A. E. Hodsdon brought preliminary plans for Phase II. An early step, he said, is getting a Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA) permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
His tentative timetable, which he said might slip, calls for a preliminary design to be presented to the committee in August, a final design approved by the committee and a final DEP permit application by December, bidding out the work in the spring of 2020 and construction next summer.
The current guardrails have been criticized as “ugly,” “overkill” and unsafe rather than safe because they are so awkward to get over. McCluskey said the boulders that lined the edge of the lake for years were apparently adequate, but now that supposedly safer rails have replaced them, town officials need to be careful not to back off too much.
McCluskey’s preliminary plan shows 14 parking spaces for boaters, the largest 50 feet long. Despite earlier reports that state officials would no longer support the boat landing due to limited parking, Heath expects state funds and materials to help with repairs. McCluskey’s plan does not envision enlarging the landing.
Two other uses for TIF funds discussed July 29 were the revolving loan fund (RLF) and the list of other projects currently funded.
Amy Gartley, RLF coordinator, said information is on the town website under the TIF Committee. Now that application forms have final approval, she and Heath plan to put information and applications in a more conspicuous place on the website.
TIF money has been helping organizations like the China Lake Association, China Region Lakes Alliance and Four Seasons Club. Committee members decided their Aug. 26 meeting will be a workshop session at which any group seeking TIF funds from the 2020 town business meeting should present its request.
Heath would like to have a list of requests submitted to selectmen by October for consideration in November.
Under state rules, TIF money is to be directed toward economic development projects, including recreation, and spent in designated TIF districts in the town. Income is from taxes paid by Central Maine Power Company on its north-south power line through China and its South China substation.