Willimantic residents vote for road repair

The Willimantic Town Hall as seen on Wednesday, May 4, 2011. Use of the facility after recent renovations has been restricted to the first floor due to code violations discovered during construction.
Kevin Bennett | BDN
The Willimantic Town Hall as seen on Wednesday, May 4, 2011. Use of the facility after recent renovations has been restricted to the first floor due to code violations discovered during construction. Buy Photo
By Alex Barber, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 15, 2013, at 12:21 p.m.

MONSON, Maine — Willimantic residents voted to transfer money to improve the town’s roads rather than use that money to restore the town hall.

The annual town meeting was held in the Monson Community Center because the town hall cannot accommodate more than 35 people, according to Selectman Julius Erdo. On Saturday night, more than 50 Willimantic residents attended the meeting.

Town officials have spent about $93,500 to renovate the hall to expand its use and provide a safe place for municipal documents, but those renovations were completed without an engineering plan or a permit from the state fire marshal’s office.

There are 15 things that need to be done by the contractor before the town can improve the building, according to one resident.

The majority of residents voted to approve the transfer of $29,849 from the town’s salt sand shed account to be used for future paving. Only five people opposed the move, the most in opposition to any of the 51 warrant articles.

Two other articles addressed raising, appropriating or transferring money to be used toward the town hall restoration account, including money coming from the salt sand shed account. Both times, residents voted to take no action.

Former Selectmen Thomas Capraro, John Tatko and Linda Packard hadn’t hired an engineer for the project, they said in 2011, because they were trying to save the town money. They drafted the specifications and awarded the bids. Before the work started, however, they contacted the town’s planning board and the state fire marshal’s office and were told that no permits were needed, Capraro said.

Rich McCarthy, senior plans examiner for the fire marshal’s office, said earlier that he understood that the building would not have a full basement, just a crawl space, which meant it would not have required a permit.

Capraro said that when town officials placed the project, which included a new foundation, out to bid, they had no intention of using the basement or the second floor in the near future.

Steve Govoni, who inspected the town hall Thursday, told approximately 25 residents and contractors that there are safety and building code problems that need to be addressed. He said the project must follow the state fire marshal’s office code and the state building code.

Until all the safety violations are met, only 35 residents are allowed on the first floor at one time, and there can be no use of the basement or the second floor, according to state officials.

All other articles passed with little to no opposition.

Dale Tomlin and Guy Turner will join Rene Gorey as the town’s selectmen. Both men received three votes, the minimum required. Tomlin was elected to a three-year term, while Turner will serve a one-year term.

Erdo announced that he was not seeking reelection.

Former BDN writer Diana Bowley contributed to this report.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/09/15/news/piscataquis/willimantic-residents-vote-for-road-repair/ printed on August 2, 2014