Recreation dept. to see changes; Bog Road bridge replacement discussed

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro select board members’ July 13 topics covered the entire town, especially the northern half: continued discussion of the recreation program and the Vassalboro Sanitary District; a state Department of Transportation (MDOT) presentation on plans for a new bridge on Bog Road in 2025; a resident’s proposal for traffic control in East Vassalboro; and the board’s own meeting schedule through the end of November.

Some members of the current recreation committee and town recreation director Karen Hatch have had difficulty sorting out respective responsibilities. The committee in the past focused on youth sports; the town program Hatch directs is expanding to serve residents of all ages.

Town Manager Aaron Miller said he met with recreation committee members, talked with other residents and consulted the town’s attorney. On his recommendation, select board members voted unanimously to seek volunteers for an expanded recreation committee that will include individuals in charge of fundraising, baseball, basketball, soccer, softball, the snack shack at the town fields on Bog Road and senior programs and events.

Residents who would like to serve on the new recreation committee are invited to contact the town office. Appointments are to be made at the Aug. 17 select board meeting. Miller said the attorney advised him that the current sports commissioners may continue as usual in the interim.

After members are appointed to the expanded committee, Miller sees their first priority as revising committee bylaws to fit into the new town structure. Committee member Karen Howard reminded everyone that Vassalboro’s bylaws need to conform to the bylaws of the Augusta-based Dirigo League in which town sports teams play.

Select board chairman Chris French said reconciling the recreation committee bylaws with the town personnel policy should – and would – have been done soon after Hatch was hired, if board members had not been fully occupied with finding a new town manager and preparing for the 2023 town meeting and new fiscal year.

Discussion of Vassalboro Sanitary District (VSD) financial issues repeated concerns explained at the June 22 select board meeting: to cover its debts and current expenses, the district needs either to raise rates to levels some of its 200 customers say are higher than their annual tax bills, or to find other funding sources (see the June 29 issue of The Town Line, p. 2).

Miller said state Representative Richard Bradstreet had offered suggestions that VSD official Becky Goodrich said led to some financial help for some customers.

Part of the problem is an increase in the rate Winslow charges Vassalboro to send its sewage via Winslow to Waterville’s treatment plant. Select board members planned to request a meeting with Winslow officials. Miller offered to arrange it, and, if Winslow agreed, to host it.

Brian Nichols, a project manager in the MDOT bridge program, came to the July 13 select board meeting to ask permission to use town roads as a detour while the Meadow Brook bridge on Bog Road, between East Vassalboro and the Hussey Hill Road intersection, is replaced.

Nichols’ proposal is to close Bog Road and send traffic over Taber Hill and Gray roads. Before and after the detour, he said, MDOT and town representatives will inspect the roads; if the extra traffic does any damage, the state will pay to repair it.

At the end of the meeting, long after Nichols left, resident William Pullen pointed out that the sharp left (south) turn where Gray Road meets Taber Hill Road would be dangerous for big trucks going south. He recommended extending the detour north to Oak Grove Road, instead of using Gray Road.

Nichols would like an answer from the select board by September, when MDOT should have a final plan and be ready to seek bids. He expects construction in the summer of 2025, with Bog Road closed for about 45 days.

The current bridge was built in 1960 on 1911 abutments, Nichols said. It is no longer stable enough to be rebuilt one lane at a time, and there is no place to put a temporary bridge, leaving detouring traffic the only option.

East Vassalboro resident Raymond Adams proposed another traffic change: a four-way stop at the East Vassalboro four corners. Currently, drivers coming east off Bog Road and west off South Stanley Hill Road face stop signs; drivers on Main Street (Route 32) go through, mostly much faster than the 25-mile-an-hour speed limit, Adams said.

Ben Gidney, who also lives near the four corners, agreed speeding – and running the stop signs – are problems. But, he said, vehicles accelerating noisily away from the stop signs are another problem that would increase with two more signs.

Miller said he consulted with David Allen, Vassalboro resident and DOT regional engineer, who said if the town asked for additional stop signs or any other change, the department would evaluate the request.

Miller said Allen reported “one crash at the intersection within the last three years.” Gidney said Allen must count only serious accidents, as he has seen more than one.

After hearing other suggestions, like rumble strips, a blinking light or a portable sign recording drivers’ speeds, select board members decided to hold a public hearing at their Sept. 7 meeting.

North Vassalboro residents added that excessive speed is a problem in their village, too.

In other business July 13, board members:

  • Authorized Miller to sign a contract with Delta Ambulance to serve Vassalboro residents;
  • Agreed to set up an escrow account for receipts from sale of foreclosed properties;
  • Appointed Peter Soule an alternate member of the town conservation commission, to serve until 2026; and
  • Approved four permits for BYOB events.

Miller will follow up on resident Raymond Breton’s complaint about superfluous utility poles in North Vassalboro. At board chairman French’s suggestion, the manager will look into the cost of updating Vassalboro’s strategic plan, which was approved in June 2006.

Select board members agreed to consider at their Aug. 17 meeting questions for an opinion survey to be sent with tax bills.

After Aug. 17, they scheduled meetings for Sept. 7, Sept. 21, Oct. 5, Oct. 19, Nov. 2 and Nov. 16. On Nov. 30, instead of a third regular November meeting, they plan a workshop session to develop priorities for the rest of the fiscal year.


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