Selectmen discuss sidewalks, sewer fees, solid waste and dam management

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen’s March 7 topics included sidewalks, sewer fees, solid waste hauling and dam management.

The sidewalk discussion related to state plans to rebuild Route 32, tentatively in 2021 or 2022. The question was whether sidewalks in the built-up sections of North and East Vassalboro would increase safety and convenience compared to the five-foot paved shoulders in the state plan.

Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus said the current sidewalks in North Vassalboro are not well maintained in winter and are so bumpy year-round that people often walk in the roadway. The state project would include new sidewalks, but maintenance would be a town responsibility, meaning costs for plowing, salting and sanding and repair as needed.

East Vassalboro resident Holly Weidner thinks drivers would not respect the wide shoulders as pedestrian territory, but would take them as an excuse to drive faster. Titus and Weidner agreed traffic-calming measures in both villages should be part of the rebuilding project.

Board member John Melrose, a former Commissioner of Transportation, expects the state transportation department to hold a public meeting to collect residents’ views when the project is closer to reality.

A resident raised the question of sewer fees, which are scheduled to almost double April 1 to help Vassalboro Sanitary District trustees fund the proposed connection to the Winslow and Waterville sewer system. Another resident said 192 households are on Vassalboro’s system, which serves East and North Vassalboro; many are already delinquent on current sewer fees.

The first speaker asked whether tax money could be used to help residents pay sewer bills. Titus said residents who want a question about spending tax money on the town meeting warrant need to draft it and get 211 voters to sign a petition supporting it in order to compel selectmen to add it.

The town has donated TIF (Tax Increment Financing) funds to the sewer project and is likely to continue to do so, he said.

Board members reviewed five bids for hauling solid waste and unanimously accepted Bolster’s Rubbish Removal of Burnham as hauler for solid waste and recyclable cardboard. The bid forms invited bidders to propose alternative methods to the containers the town now uses; Town Manager Mary Sabins said no one did.

The dam issue involves the contract under which the Kennebec Water District (KWD) manages the Outlet Dam in East Vassalboro to keep the China Lake water level within state guidelines. Sabins said the contract expired Jan. 31. The draft renewal submitted by KWD increases the fee charged to Vassalboro and reassigns some responsibilities from KWD to the town.

Sabins said KWD General Manager Roger Crouse had invited her to discuss the contract. Selectmen encouraged her to accept the invitation.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 21, with a budget committee meeting scheduled to follow at 7 p.m.


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