BAR HARBOR, Maine — Downtown Town Hill, where two busy roads intersect a state highway, might look a little different by the fall of 2012, according to a local official.
According to Chip Reeves, the town’s public works director, the town is hoping to reconfigure how the southern end of Knox Road intersects Routes 102 and 198 in the village of Town Hill. And he said the town might be able to get some help from the state in paying for it.
In addition to a new intersection, Bar Harbor officials are looking for a new planning director and a new member of the Town Council. After hearing at its meeting Tuesday night about the possibility of getting state funds for the intersection renovation project, the council took steps toward finding them.
Reeves said Wednesday that for several years the town has been looking to reconfigure the intersection of Knox Road and Routes 102 and 198. For drivers heading north on the state routes, the road curves to the left where Knox Road branches off straight ahead, right next to the Town Hill Market. Much of the traffic on Mount Desert Island, in particular vehicles driving between the Trenton Causeway and the towns of Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor and Tremont, drive through Town Hill.
Reeves said the safety concerns at that intersection include visibility for drivers turning off the end of Crooked Road, which is only a few yards away, onto the state routes. He said the town does not have any drawings or survey work for what the reconfigured intersection might look like, but the general idea is to turn the end of Knox Road so it intersects with the state routes at a 90-degree angle. The end of Crooked Road would not be moved, he said, but the sight lines affecting drivers coming off Crooked Road would be improved.
Reeves said that the project would be relatively minor and feasibly could be completed within the next 12 months. The Maine Department of Transportation program that could help fund the project, called the Municipal Partnership Initiative, funds approximately 50 percent of qualified projects that cost less than $500,000, he said.
“I don’t see this [project] coming close to that [expense],” Reeves said.
Reeves said he thinks the end of Knox Road could be reconfigured without having a significant effect on nearby property owners. He said he plans to meet with MDOT representatives on Thursday, Sept. 8, to discuss the potential project.
“I think we’re very happy to see this happen,” Council Chairman Ruth Eveland told Reeves on Tuesday.
In other business, the council on Tuesday laid out a timeline for appointing a new fellow councilor to replace Matt Horton, who resigned last month because of health reasons.
They decided to have interested local residents fill out applications, much as they would to volunteer on municipal committees, and to review the applications when they meet on Oct. 18.
According to Dana Reed, Bar Harbor’s town manager, state law allows the council to review the applications in executive session so that members of the council can speak freely about the candidates.
The council also on Tuesday appointed Angela Chamberlain, the town’s code enforcement officer, as Bar Harbor’s interim planning director. Chamberlain had been the town’s acting planning director since Anne Krieg was placed on administrative leave in July for reasons that have not been publicly disclosed. Krieg resigned her post as planning director on July 27 as part of an agreement that included $84,500 in severance pay and a nondisclosure clause.
Also on Tuesday, the town held a special town meeting to decide whether to give the council the authority to enter into a sale or lease agreement of more than 15 years for the former Water Department building on Main Street.
According to Town Clerk Pat Gray, without voter approval the council’s authority in such matters is limited to granting leases of 15 years or less. She said the matter was approved Tuesday by a unanimous voice vote of approximately 20 local residents.
Gray said the town has not received any formal proposals from anyone interested in buying or signing a long-term lease on the building.