LINCOLN, Maine — Workers opened a wall at Richard Larkin’s West Broadway office in October and found something they didn’t expect or like — a disintegrating chimney, Larkin said Wednesday.
“We saw that the mortar was crumbling at all the joints. It wasn’t pretty,” Larkin recalled.
Larkin’s success with the chimney’s replacement was among the things that motivated him to open Heat Pumps Unlimited LLC, which sells pumps that draw heat from the compression of air to warm homes. Selling typically for $3,500 to $4,500, his first heat pump saved him about $3,000 in its first year of operation at his home, he said.
Heat Pumps Unlimited is among several businesses opening, under construction or relocating on West Broadway this month, said Ruth Birtz, the town’s economic development coordinator.
Heat Pumps moved into a space near Northern Penobscot Tech vacated by Mainely Log Home Furnishings. Mainely Log moved to a building near West Broadway and River Road across from the site where SW Collins hardware is due to open this fall. Construction of the Collins store, and a Dunkin’ Donuts near the Hannaford shopping center, is underway.
Contractors are installing a $7.5 million natural-gas pipeline along River Road and the connection to Interstate 95’s exit 227 that will eventually run to the Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC mill on Katahdin Avenue. A restaurant that sells hot dogs and other American fare also opened recently on West Broadway near Why Not Stop? convenience store in a spot once occupied by Coffee Pot Cafe.
“It does look very busy, and that’s a good thing,” Birtz said. “The town looks busy because we are starting to get our summer traffic of tourists.”
Town officials are working with the Maine Department of Transportation on a proposed widening of West Broadway that will hopefully attract businesses, Birtz said.
The new businesses, officials hope, will be revenue producers for the town that can help offset an approximately $645,000 cut to the town’s proposed $4.3 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The Town Council will meet in a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday to hold a public hearing and vote on the budget, council Chairman Steve Clay said Wednesday. One police officer, two firefighters and three part-time library and town clerks are among the proposed cuts.
“We have cut quite a bit this year, and I think it is a fairly good budget. Anytime you cut budgets, jobs are on the line. Anyone who thinks that is easy is wrong. It is a tough thing to do,” Clay said.
The cut was made to offset the impact upon residents of 200 layoffs at the Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC mill in December. A boiler explosion in November and the loss of a tissue contract to an Indonesian firm caused the job loss.