30-acre gift aids Millinocket trail project

Posted Dec. 23, 2010, at 12:33 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 7:24 a.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Katahdin Paper Co. LLC has given 30 acres to the town to help local officials finish a $625,000 walking and biking trail along Millinocket Stream originally slated for completion last month, officials said Wednesday.

The nine parcels — plus the playground in the Little Italy section of town — deeded to the town will allow town officials to keep the trail as conceived, said Marcia McKeague, president of Katahdin Forest Management, one of the Katahdin group of companies.

“Through the deeding process we realized that the company still owned Little Italy playground and we thought the town should have that,” McKeague said Wednesday.

Estimates of the value of the donation weren’t available on Wednesday. The council voted to approve accepting the land on Tuesday. A division of Brookfield Asset Management of Toronto, Katahdin Paper Co. owns paper mills in East Millinocket and Millinocket.

The town contracted with the Maine Department of Transportation in October 2009 to build the trail, which will run about eight-tenths of a mile along both sides of the stream between Stearns High and Granite Street schools.

The town’s plan calls for spending $500,000 in federal grants, $80,625 in DOT funds and $44,375 in municipal funds, of which some will be in-kind work done by town workers. The federal grants were leftover from an earlier project that never materialized.

Councilors have said they expected the project would beautify downtown while providing a tourist draw and a recreational outlet.

The construction of the trail will go out to bid next month, said John Theriault, project manager for James W. Sewall Co. of Old Town, which is overseeing the design and construction of the trail. The bids should be returned sometime in the spring.

The project had been delayed by several things, including the lack of the donated parcels and final project approval from the DOT, which officials expect to have shortly, Theriault said.

The project will feature a dual trail system, with a paved area for walkers, joggers and bicyclists and a separate gravel area for ATV riders.

Councilors on Tuesday also opted to follow Town Manager Eugene Conlogue’s recommendation and table plans to raze a house at 138 Lincoln St. until next month so that contractors can resubmit bids on the work.

Conlogue said he believed that the bids for the work were too high.

Two contractors submitted bids. Calvin Ireland of Lincoln bid $29,885 and Thompson Contracting of Mattawamkeag bid $14,378, Town Clerk Roxanne Johnson said.

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