VASSALBORO: Only two members present causes postponements

by Mary Grow

With only two of three members present at their Nov. 2 meeting, Vassalboro select board members postponed action on several items; but they could not postpone the request to close the transfer station on Saturday, Nov. 11.

Because Veterans’ Day falls on a Saturday this year, state departments and agencies, municipalities and schools are mostly observing the holiday on Friday, Nov. 10. Vassalboro’s transfer station is not open on Fridays.

Station manager George Hamar, who is a veteran, asked for Saturday off. Select board members had two concerns: how to notify residents on short notice and how to reconcile the closing with the personnel handbook.

After almost 20 minutes’ discussion, chairman Chris French and Frederick “Rick” Denico, Jr., voted to close the transfer station on Saturday, Nov. 11, and in the future to adjust the personnel policy to accommodate such circumstances.

The transfer station will be open as usual from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12.

Continuing the experiments with ways to make select board meetings accessible to more residents, Michael Picher and David Trask recorded the Nov. 2 meeting, using Picher’s camera and Trask’s laptops that the two are willing to give to the town.

Town manager Aaron Miller listed additional equipment that would be needed if the Picher-Trask system replaced the one Laura Jones used for previous meetings. He plans to buy it with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Trask praised Jones’ work, and Jones said she is ready to hand over the job. French and Denico authorized Miller to spend up to $4,000 in ARPA funds.

A very much more expensive project, replacement of the Dunlap bridge over Seven Mile Stream, on Mill Hill Road, in southwestern Vassalboro, was discussed at length by officials, engineer and Vassalboro resident James Foster and audience members. Foster, a consultant to the state Department of Transportation (DOT), explained the problem and possible solutions.

Dunlap bridge is a town responsibility, Foster said. It consists of a large double culvert, which DOT inspectors found has deteriorated significantly.

Foster said a DOT posting committee will review the bridge report and, he expects, decide to post the bridge (limit the weight of vehicles using it), probably before the end of the year. The weight limit could be as high as 22 tons or as low as three tons, he said.

Meeting participants said there are three houses and a gravel pit beyond the bridge, before Mill Hill Road dead-ends. Foster said a posted bridge allows no exceptions; if a fuel truck, an ambulance or a fire truck is heavier than the weight limit, it cannot be driven across the bridge.

And, he added, the replacement project would need to include a temporary bridge, an additional expense. He gave no firm figures, but he and others cited other bridge projects in Vassalboro that cost up to $2.5 million.

Foster recommended board members appoint a committee to study options for a replacement, costs and possible funding sources.

Agenda items postponed were review of the personnel handbook; review of the recreation committee’s bylaws; and action on a proposal from Waterville officials to improve Vassalboro communications as they expand Waterville’s equipment on a Cook Hill radio tower.

Miller shared a letter from Vassalboro school superintendent Alan Pfeiffer thanking officials for allowing police chief Mark Brown to be at Vassalboro Community School for the beginning and end of school hours the week after the Lewiston shooting.

The next regular Vassalboro select board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16.


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