City searches for water project funds

Posted March 23, 2010, at 11:07 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:46 a.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — City officials are still seeking the best source of funding to continue work on the Route 1A waterline project.

Earlier this month, city councilors authorized the city to issue general obligation bonds in the amount of $2.3 million. That is the city’s share of the $3.3 million project, which also includes a $1 million contribution from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

City Manager Michelle Beal said the city had sought federal funding through a grant-loan program.

“They offered us a loan, but we did not qualify for the grant,” Beal said Tuesday. “So we are still trying to secure funding for the project. We’re looking for the least expensive way to fund it.”

The council’s decision to authorize the bond gives the city the ability to move forward with the project if no other funding sources can be found, she said. It also allows the city’s finance director to prepare for the bond issue, which will require final approval from the councilors.

“We will need to be able to move quickly on this,” she said.

The funding issue has delayed the project slightly, Beal added, although she said work would begin on the next phase of the project this summer. In conjunction with the Maine Department of Transportation project on Route 1A, the city already had installed more than 1,000 feet of waterlines along the main road from the Union River Bridge north to a site that was used to collect used waste motor oil in the 1970s.

According to Beal, some of the oil leaked into the ground and into the bedrock, contaminating the groundwater used for wells. Many of the homes in the area have been using filtration systems for a number of years. The funding from the DEP was a way to help bring municipal water to the area and to get those homes off the fil-tration systems.

The second phase of the project will involve running lines from Lakes Lane north to the Union River Bridge and also running water lines from Route 1A down Vittum Road and Industrial Road into the city’s industrial park, to the transfer station and down Boggy Brook Road to the Hancock County Technical Center. The in-dustrial park has been underused over the years, Beal said, because of the lack of a municipal water supply.

She noted that the DOT plans to reconfigure a section of Route 180. Vittum Road, the road leading from 1A to the industrial park, will become part of Route 180.

“That’s going to open up that area for economic development,” Beal said.

That project is planned for next spring and Beal said the city will need to coordinate its waterline project with the DOT. Despite the delay in funding, she said, bids for the water line project should go out sometime in May.

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