2015-12-25 / Community

News Briefs

Village Fire Station to be repaired

Following what Kennebunkport Fire Chief Allen Moir has called a “long and drawn-out process” lasting more than two years, the Village Fire Station, located at 33 North St., will finally be repaired and repainted.

According to Moir, three rounds of bid requests went unanswered by contractors.

“I guess it’s the economy’s fault, because the local contractors are just so busy, they don’t want to bid on a small project like this,” he said.

Finally, Moir split the maintenance and painting projects into separate bids, in hopes of luring smaller, specialist contractors. Even then, only two bids were submitted for the painting, and not for the repair work.

At their Dec. 10 meeting, selectmen gave the painting work to Painting by Northeast Inc., which asked for $11,063. The other bidder, Seaside Painting & Maintenance, wanted $17,450.

And, after four rounds of soliciting bids, selectmen took the advice of Town Planner Werner Gilliam, who suggested the town reach out to local contractor Ed Spaulding.

“We called contractors, we sent emails, we made phone calls, and we did advertising. Nobody else wanted the job,” Moir said.

For his work, to include repair of rotted trimming and loose clapboards, as well as fixing trimming around the station doors, Spaulding will be paid $17,293.

Moir said Spaulding will complete his portion of the job over the winter. Painting will begin in the “early spring,” he said.

But finally getting someone willing to do the job may not be the best news, as two other bits of information came out at the Dec. 10 selectmen’s meeting.

“It’s all come in under budget,” board Chairman Sheila Matthews-Bull said.

“Which means we might have some money to do some air conditioning,” Town Manager Laurie Smith said. “We have gotten prices.”

Kennebunkport sets shellfish limits

When it comes to digging clams, it’s new rules, same as the old rules, in Kennebunkport. At its Dec. 10 meeting, selectmen voted unanimously to back the recommendation of the town’s shellfish committee, and Shellfish Warden Terry Baron, to keep license amounts and fees, as well as season dates and catch limits, unchanged from last season.

Once again, people will be able to dig along the shores and in designated mud flats on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from April 15 to Oct. 15. Licenses, available at the town clerk’s office starting April 15, are limited to 75 for town residents (at a cost of $15, each) and eight for non-residents (for $30, each). Only two commercial licenses will be available, at a cost of $125 each, and are offered to town residents only.

Recreational diggers are limited to taking one peck per week. The commercial diggers may take up to two pecks per day.

In addition, complimentary recreational licenses are available to Kennebunkport residents age 65 or older.

Selectmen extend town’s garbage pact

Kennebunkport selectmen voted unanimously Dec. 10 to extend the town’s agreement with Oceanside Rubbish by three years.

And, while a unanimous vote is generally a good sign, selectmen made sure there was no questioning their happiness with the town’s solid waste and recycling vendor.

“They’re very responsible, and they do a very, very good job,” Chairman Sheila Matthews Bull said.

“We’re fortunate to have them,” Selectman Allen Daggett agreed.

“They’re terrific,” Selectman Edward Hutchins said. “And our taxpayers don’t have to buy colored bags to throw their trash in, either.”

Kennebunkport currently pays $235,712 for weekly trash collection and curbside recycling pickup. Oceanside also managers several dumpsters and public barrels for the town. Per the agreement signed by selectmen, the contract price will increase to $239,248 in the coming budget year, followed by outlays of $242,836 in FY 2018 and $246,479 in FY 2019.

Donations made to emergency fuel account

It’s been a mild season thus far, with the prospects of a white Christmas, and even a white New Year’s, predicted at something on the order of nil. Still, winter, as they say, is coming. This is Maine after all.

And luckily for those in Kennebunkport a little less able that most to last out the winter weather, there are those willing to help. At their Dec. 22 meeting, selectmen accepted more than $5,745 in donations to the emergency fuel account run by the Kennebunkport Public Health Department.

Donations to the heating fuel fund were made by the Kennebunk Portside Rotary Club ($570), the Kennebunkport Residents Association ($1,000), the Goose Rocks Beach Fire Company ($1,000), the Flynn Family Foundation ($2,500), and the Village Fire Company ($675.20).

The Flynn family also gave $2,500 to the town’s emergency food account and $2,500 to the public health account.

Concerns mount over Mousam River dams

The fate of the Mousam River dams owned and operated by the Kennebunk Light and Power District, has a lot of locals on edge. And it’s not just environmentalists or ratepayers who are concerned.

Some fear the cost to relicense the three dams with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or else tear them all out, or some combination thereof, could fall on the town of Kennebunk.

Depending on what option is pursued, the final bill could range as high as $1.9 million, and that’s been described by KLPD trustees as its net cost after factoring out revenues on the dams. The actual cost could ring in at more than $11.7 million.

At the Dec. 15 meeting of the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen, chairman Kevin Donovan warned residents to brace for the worst.

“I fully anticipate they will decertify the dams and walk away from them,” Donovan said of the KLPD trustees.

“The decision is going to have to be made at that point as to what we as a town do,” Donovan said. “Do we take the dams out or do we incur the cost of maintaining the dams and getting fish ladders and doing everything else?

“Right now, we don’t have that cost,” he said. “We’ll take a look at it, but if I’m still on the board I would stringently push to get that before the townspeople and not the board of selectmen. I think every resident of the town, every voter, should be able to vote one way or the other on that, on a very important process and something that will affect a very large portion of the town.”

However, KLPD General Manager Todd Shea said in an email, when asked about Donovan’s comment, that neither the selectmen, nor Kennebunk residents outside the KLPD service area, should fret about getting stuck with the bill.

“KLPD doesn’t have the ability to just walk away from the dams,” She wrote. “The dams on the Mousam River are owned by KLPD, and the board [or trustees] elected by the ratepayers is solely responsible for the decision. KLPD will not walk away from its responsibilities.

“As stated in a recent report, and as explained publicly in meetings we have held, if KLPD decides to stop generation and decommission the dams, they would more than likely have to be removed, Shea said. “I do not believe FERC would allow us to just abandon them.

“If the town and taxpayers, rather than ratepayers, are to pick up the tab for environmental responsibilities and maintenance, that would be up to the town to propose to KLPD,” Shea said.

“KLPD is an independent, quasi-municipal utility. If the residents of the town of Kennebunk convince the board of selectmen it is in the best interest of the town as a whole to keep the dams, it would be a conversation that KLPD’s board would have to entertain.

“Keeping in mind that no decisions have yet been made, I believe this is all a cartbefore the-horse conversation,” Shea said. “Should the board [of trustees] decide to not relicense the dams, just walking away isn’t an option that KLPD is aware of, nor do I believe that it is one that our board would make.”

Compiled by Staff Writer Wm. Duke Harrington/news@kennebunkpost.com.

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