HERMON, Maine — Town officials have received official word that Hermon has been awarded more than $500,000 in state grant funding that will be used to construct sidewalks in the town’s village district.
Ron Harriman, the town’s economic development director, said the sidewalks are one aspect of the Village Master Plan residents adopted in 2009 as a way to create a pedestrian-friendly town center that complements the rural character residents want to retain.
Harriman says the idea is to link Hermon High and Hermon Middle School with sidewalks, making it easier for students to walk to and from school. Sidewalks on the opposite side of Route 2 would create a pedestrian connection between Camden National Bank and the Baptist Church.
Harriman said the town earlier this month received official notice that the sidewalk project has received a major boost — a $502,400 grant from the Maine Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to Schools Transportation Enhancement Program. The grant, he said, is the largest Hermon has received in his roughly 15 years as economic development director.
Once the town’s $125,600 — or 20 percent match — is factored in, the town will have a budget of $628,000 for the sidewalk construction, Harriman said, adding that landing the grant was a real coup for Hermon because it was among a handful of projects chosen from a field of roughly 90 applicants.
According to Harriman and Town Manager Roger Raymond, Hermon is working to coordinate the timing of the sidewalk work with several other improvements planned for the center of town.
Also being lined up are a nearly $1.5 million overhaul of the town’s village center, a project local officials had hoped to complete in time for the town’s bicentennial in the summer of 2014, Raymond said in late April.
The Route 2 upgrade, included in the state’s biennial transportation improvement program, calls for redoing the intersection of Route 2 and Billings Road and the stretch of roadway leading up to it, and an overlay of fresh pavement.
Planned for the village center are sidewalks, crosswalks, drainage improvements and such amenities as pedestrian lighting, benches, trash receptacles and tree plantings.
The town also is working on a possible expansion of sewer and water lines along Route 2 from Billings Road to Coldbrook Road, and along Coldbrook from Route 2 to Autocar Lane.
Raymond said the proposed $5.2 million utility expansion encompasses a more than three-mile stretch that has 97 buildings along it, including Hermon High School, several businesses and some apartment buildings.
He said the project would improve water quality for businesses that say the current supply of water is adversely affecting their operations, Raymond said. The addition of hydrants would improve fire protection, he said.
In conjunction with the water and sewer work, the town hopes to get Bangor Gas to install natural gas lines and is looking to convert fiber optic lines — now underground and cased in concrete — into aerial lines, Raymond said this spring. Getting the fiber optic lines above ground will give the town access to a side of Route 2 that is now off limits because of setback requirements.