VASSALBORO: Pike Industries awarded summer road paving

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen approved acceptance of bids for summer road paving and for providing large dumpsters so the town crew can remove an ancient mobile home on a tax-acquired lot; decided they should develop an ordinance to govern mass gatherings; and discussed other mostly-administrative matters at their June 10 meeting.

Seven companies bid for paving work in Vassalboro. Road Commissioner Eugene Field recommended, and selectmen accepted, Pike Industries’ low bid of $67.47 per ton of mix.

Vassalboro bid jointly with China, as they have done in past years. China selectmen also chose Pike.

Field said he had budgeted for up to $80 per ton, given uncertainty about prices earlier this spring. He recommended, and selectmen agreed, that any extra funds be spent to repave as much as possible of the town office, fire station and food pantry driveways and dooryards. The food pantry has received $5,000 in donations toward repaving, he added.

Vassalboro Town Manager Mary Sabins is seeking suggestions for spending expected federal money under the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA). One eligible category, she said, is assistance to businesses damaged by the pandemic. Any business owner adversely affected is invited to contact the town office.

The town-owned derelict mobile home is between Route 32 and Outlet Stream, a short distance north of East Vassalboro. Town Manager Mary Sabins used information from the web to estimate the weight of material to be removed. She found that older homes – this one was built in 1963, she said – weigh on average 30 to 40 pounds per square foot; newer ones are heavier.

Sabins estimated the project should cost under $4,500, including the town crew’s labor. The solid waste budget is already tight, she said; she thinks there is unspent money in the administration budget.

Four companies had bid either to do the work or to provide a dumpster and disposal if the town crew did it.

Field said if selectmen so voted, he and his crew would make time for the job. It might take two and a half days, or they might finish in a day, he said. Sabins commented that the town crew had already done an excellent job clearing trees and cleaning up the lot.

Selectmen decided the town crew should do the work. They accepted Waste Management of Norridgewock’s bid to supply as many dumpsters as needed for a one-time fee of $165 and to deal with the trash at $265 for each haul plus a $69-per-ton disposal fee.

The manager would like to turn the area into a streamside park, with benches and perhaps a gazebo. Fishing would be encouraged, in her plan.

The proposed Mass Gathering Ordinance is in response to a planned country music festival in the summer of 2022. Sabins’ research led her to the relevant state statute, which covers gatherings of more than 2,000 people lasting 12 hours or more.

Selectmen would like an ordinance applicable to smaller events. Sabins said a state health inspector had also recommended a local ordinance with lower limits. He further recommended requiring admission by advance ticket only, so that adequate provisions could be made (for portable toilets, for example).

Town Attorney Kristin Collins had provided a copy of Readfield’s ordinance as a possible model.

Selectman Barbara Redmond volunteered to work with Sabins on a draft Vassalboro ordinance. Board members agreed they, rather than the planning board, should take on the job, in the hope of getting an ordinance to voters in November; and they agreed Collins should be asked to review their document as it approached final form.

In other business, Sabins said Benton Town Clerk Melanie Alexander will succeed Jean Poulin, who retires as Vassalboro’s bookkeeper on July 2. Alexander is a certified town clerk, tax collector and treasurer who is willing to leave Benton because she prefers financial work to clerking, Sabins said.

Benton is advertising on its town website for a full-time town clerk and a part-time deputy clerk.

Sabins said now that selectmen have given up the idea of town-sponsored fireworks as part of the 250th anniversary celebration, the Vassalboro Business Association has requested $1,000 from the proposed $4,000 fireworks fund to help with an anniversary parade. Selectmen unanimously approved.

The manager reported that Codes Officer Paul Mitnik notified owners of Vassalboro’s five marijuana businesses that they need to apply for town licenses immediately, under the Town of Vassalboro Marijuana Business Ordinance voters approved on June 8.

Selectmen Redmond and Christopher French began the meeting by electing Robert Browne chairman of the board. Browne invited them to bring to his attention matters they think the board should consider.

The next Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 24, in person in the town office meeting room. Selectmen agreed to hold only one meeting a month during the summer; they chose Thursday, July 15, and Thursday, Aug. 12. Both meetings are currently scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Town finances in good shape

Vassalboro’s auditor, Ron Smith, owner of RHR Smith & Company in Buxton, told Vassalboro selectmen their town finances are in good shape and should be sound for another few years – but after that, be prepared for change.

Vassalboro has a healthy enough surplus, Smith reported at the June 10 selectmen’s meeting. “Financially, you guys are pretty solid,” he said, and in a good position “to weather this storm, whatever it is.”

Considering the town responsibility for part of school spending, as well as the municipal budget, the surplus account could be higher, on principle. Smith foresees no threat in practice while post-pandemic federal funding remains generous.

Based on the 2008 recession and its aftermath, however, he expects federal support to decline around 2025 or 2026. Then, he warned, “Watch out.”

Asked for advice, he offered, “Don’t go outside of your means. Whatever you build, you’ve got to take care of.”

Right now, people are moving into Maine towns, straining the infrastructure and changing the local economy. But, Smith said, consider what happens if they move out again.


Responsible journalism is hard work!
It is also expensive!

If you enjoy reading The Town Line and the good news we bring you each week, would you consider a donation to help us continue the work we’re doing?

The Town Line is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit private foundation, and all donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Service code.

To help, please visit our online donation page or mail a check payable to The Town Line, PO Box 89, South China, ME 04358. Your contribution is appreciated!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *