Machias to hold special town meeting

Posted Nov. 25, 2009, at 8:20 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — A special town meeting has been set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9, to move some funds for the reconstruction of Grove Street.

The roadway, which bisects the base of College Hill and runs along the Machias River, has been closed due to safety concerns.

“If you look at it, the guardrails are just hanging,” Town Manager Betsy Fitzgerald said. “There is no ground under them.”

Fitzgerald said it originally was believed that the erosion that is destroying the road was caused by seasonal high water flows in the river. But Fitzgerald said it was discovered that changes in storm water patterns above the roadway, specifically development around the shopping center on Route 1, funneled water to that area.

“Runoff, seeking a way to go downhill, ran right underneath the road bed,” Fitzgerald said.

The work will include installing new catch basins, stabilizing the banks on both sides of the road and installing new drains under the road.

If voters approve moving the funds at the special meeting, work can begin immediately. “This is key because should there be a major blockage on College Hill, Grove Street could be an important alternate route,” the manager said.

The vote is required to move $22,190 that originally had been appropriated for the Machias school roof project. That project, funded in May of 2008 at $708,605, came in under budget and all officials agreed that the savings should be returned to the town.

Only voter approval can shift funds raised for education to road improvements.

The project, which is estimated at about $25,000, can be accomplished with shifted funds and a bit of money left over from summer repairs on Center Street.

That project turned out to be a bit more complicated than originally thought, Fitzgerald said. “We thought we needed to repair two pipes and we found six,” she said. “It was like a little treasure hunt.”

Fitzgerald said the school committee should be applauded for watching the bottom line of their project so carefully. “They worked hard to see that all the money went to better education,” she said. “There were no gold-plated chairs.” She said the school system and the town have worked cooperatively and “that is really nice to see.”

A regular selectmen’s meeting will immediately follow the special meeting.

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