2018-02-16 / Front Page

Kennebunkport makes project plans

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — With budget season just around the corner, Kennebunkport selectmen have begun to study the town’s fiveyear capital improvement projects (CIP) plan, which envisions spending $2.62 million on infrastructure projects during the new fiscal year that begins July 1.

That lion’s share of those dollars — much of which will be paid for by a bond expected to go before voters at the annual town meeting in June — will go toward annual road repair projects, but the plan does call for $1.1 million for critical repairs to Ocean Avenue.

Future big ticket items reviewed by selectmen at their Feb. 8 meeting include $1.5 million to rebuild the Cape Porpoise Pier — with work planned for the 2020-2021 fiscal year — and $1 million for a potential town hall move in 2023.

Ocean Avenue

Ocean Avenue between the Nonantum Resort and the Glen Creek Bridge is actually built atop a sea wall. According to Town Manager Laurie Smith, “That wall needs to be replaced in order to maintain the integrity of the road.”

More critically, according to Public Works Director Michael Claus, the wall has begun to collapse in the area of the John Rinaldi home at 107 Ocean Ave. Built in 1900, the home was a boathouse known as “The Floats,” which belonged to noted local author Booth Tarkington, doubling as his writing studio from the 1920s until his death in 1946.

The Rinaldis have owned the building since 1983, when major alterations were undertaken to convert it into a private residence, currently assessed by the town at $1.2 million.

“The Rinaldi’s house is holding up the wall at this point,” Claus said. “The wall has basically failed right at their house.”

That the sea wall beneath Ocean Avenue was beginning to give was was known as far back as 2009, when Kennebunkport contracted Portland engineering firm Woodard & Curran to perform a study. That assessment called on not only repairing the wall, but also raising it, to make Ocean Avenue, “flood proof,” Claus said.

“The deteriorating concrete wall was known as a problem at that time, but the cost of raising the road and the issue of how raising the road would impinge on the neighbors, it just never had any reason to move forward,” Claus said.

The “extremely expensive” project remained on the back burner until this last year, when the Rinaldis noticed the sea wall was “leaning back into their house,” and asked the town to take a fresh look at its condition, Claus said, noting that he hired Woodard & Curran to once again eyeball the wall.

“Except for the area in front of the Rinaldi’s house, it’s not a hazard right now, but there’s no reason to think that it’s really safe. The deterioration is there,” Claus said.

The planned reconstruction project will re- build the wall from the Nonantum to Glen Creek, “to make it structurally sound,” and will replace culverts as needed, but will leave the road at its current elevation, Claus said.

Other line items in the “special projects” section of the CIP plan include $50,000 anticipated for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, to pay for an engineering study of the Dock Square granite support wall, and $800,000 projected in reconstruction costs to Pier Road. That project is on the town’s radar, but is not currently scheduled within the five-year scope of the current CIP plan.

Cape Porpoise Pier

Just as the Ocean Avenue sea wall is giving way, the supports at the Cape Porpoise Pier, which serves more than 50 commercial fishermen from four towns, are beginning to give way.

“Over the past five to 10 years, we’ve had a lot of deterioration to the front wall underneath the pier, kind of directly underneath the face of the bait building,” said pier manager and harbormaster Lee McCurdy.

“Because the foundation of the building rests right on the wall, where it has started collapsing in, it has kind of broke the building right in half,” McCrudy said.

But unlike Ocean Avenue, the town is more under the gun when it comes to the height of the pier, due to insurance costs and federal government regulations. As part of any reconstruction, the pier in the area and 60-year-old bait building would need to be raised 7.5 feet just to meet current flood levels anticipated from a so-called 100-year storm. However, under the latest iteration of the flood maps currently being circulated for comment by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, that height needed to clear the 100-year flood mark would mean raising the building 12 feet from its current floor level.

In order to “better understand the next course of action,” Smith said, the town contracted Baker Design Consultants of Freeport this past year to take a look at its options and develop a cost estimate. That has resulted in a $1.5 million concept plan to actually move the bait building to an area over what is now a section of beach.

“This location allows us to meet the current [7.5-foot] flood elevation,” Smith said. “So, we are looking at an appeal as part of out flood map work that we are currently doing with Ransom Environmental.”

Kennebunkport has joined a six-town consortium led by Ransom seeking to turn back some, if not all, of the higher flood elevations in the new FEMA maps. However, even if that appeal meets with success, the town will still need a mother-may-I from both the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers in order to relocate the pier building.

“It will be a little [bit of an] elongated permitting process, but we have hopes that they would allow that,” Smith said.

According to McCurdy, the current plan calls for widening the rebuilt pier for better vehicle access. The pier will probably be accessed from the new bait building by a winch, rather than a ramp, he said. While the reconfiguration will not result in any more parking spaces, it should enable “better traffic flow,” he added.

The CIP plan for the 2018-2019 fiscal year includes $100,000 to Baker proceed with final plans and permitting. The actual reconstruction is slated for the 2021 fiscal year, in order to take advantage of $250,000 small harbors improvement grant Smith says the state has “penciled in” for the project, once the money becomes available in 2020.

“With the permitting and design work done this year, when the funding is in place we would be ready to move forward,” Smith said.

Town office

Finally, at least in terms of big ticket items, plans are underway to renovate and/or move town hall as part of a town wide review of fire station needs, Smith said.

“I can foresee that the current town hall will need replacement, if for no other reason than a lack of parking for staff and the public,” Smith wrote in a Feb. 5 memo to selectmen.

“We also are examining the current fire station locations and equipment usage,” Smith wrote. “As we scrutinize the future needs of the fire department, we may find that alternate locations and buildings are needed to meet the demands of future service.”

The upshot is that a juggling of exactly where the town pre-positions its fire engines could result in an available building that could be remade as a new town hall. However, that possibility is a ways off, and will depend in large part on the needs identified by the town’s new fire chief, once hired later this year. Currently, $1 million is in the CIP plan for a town hall project, to be bonded in 2023.

Current CIP

Station coverage is not the only self-assessment being performed by the fire department. According to Smith and interim Fire Chief Scott Lantagne, before previous chief Allan Moir died in December, he and the department officers had determined Kennebunkport actually has an “overabundence of equipment.”

Lantagne told selectmen at their Feb. 8 meeting that the current plan, subject to change by the new fire chief, is to right-size the fleet by selling off two fire engines. That will still leave the town with three engines, a ladder truck, and a water tanker, in addition to two brush trucks and squad vehicle, he said.

“We acknowledge that this could change with a new chief as we develop a plan for the future,” Smith said.

“But, right now, the officers are in agreement and believe we can actually do more with less,” Lantagne said. “ A lot of the trucks don’t get out because we don’t have the personnel at the moment, at certain times. And maintenance-wise, we are putting money into trucks that are just sitting here not doing anything.”

Smith noted that the last time Kennebunkport sold off one of its used fire engines, it only netted $10,000.

“We’re spending $500,000 and getting $10,000. So, we’re not really recouping on the old fire trucks,” she said.

“But they are going to places that can really use them, places up north that really can’t afford [a new fire engine],” Lantagne said. “They are still usable. So, it’s nice to see them going to a good home.”

CIP requests for the coming year for the fire department total $81,545 and includes $17,000 for protective gear worn by firefighters; $36,045 for new breathing units and air bottles; $14,500 to renovate the chief’s office at the North Street fire station; and, $14,000 to install new door safety devices at the Wildes District fire station.

The five-year CIP plan envisions annual capital expenditures for the fire department of between $64,608 and $121,412 through 2023 spent primarily on protective gear, air bottles, and radio equipment. However, the pace of spending picks up after that, with $4.83 million in spending targeted for beyond 2023, including regular vehicle replacements excepted between 2027 (to replace Engine 12 at a projected cost of $635,000) and 2039 (when $1.5 million will be needed for a new ladder truck).

Road repairs

The largest part of the CIP budget in most any year is the request for public works, given the cost to maintain roads. Claus has asked for $717,000 in the coming year. Much of that money ($233,400) will be spent to finish work to North Street undertaken in recent years, with another $321,850 going to rebuild Mills Road from Beachwood Avenue to as near the Biddeford town line as money will allow.

Claus said the Mills Road work will actually come in equal installments over two years, to take advantage of up to $877,000 in matching funds from the Maine Department of Transportation.

Other road work planned for the coming year (mostly paving overlays) includes: Beacon Avenue ($12,128), Chestnut Street ($18,300), Eel Bridge Lane ($5,821), Greene Street ($12,994), Guinea Road from Goose Rocks to Whitten Hill Road ($99,004), Haverhill Avenue ($9,979), Colony Avenue ($13,080), Magnolia Avenue ($15,246), Mill Lane ($3,049), Paddy Creek Road ($6,930), Paddy Creek Hill Road ($6,930), Pleasant Street ($9,745), Port Farm Road ($8,663), Temple Street ($7,536), Union Street ($7,710), and Washington Court ($17,100). About half the work will be done in the summer, and the rest in the fall, Claus said.

Annual road construction and paving is current budgeted at between $207,900 and $573,307 over the next five years, with annual sidewalk work ranging as high as $83,412.

The coming year will top that, however, with $92,736 in sidewalk repairs on tap. Much of that work will take place on Mills Road, and on Ocean Avenue, in the area of the art galleries.

In other public works requests for 2018-2019, Claus has asked for $175,000 to replace the town’s combination roadside mower and sidewalk snow blower, as well as $12,000 to replace the Keegard fueling system for town trucks. A $42,000 item to replace a 2006 Ford F-350 4x4 pickup truck used by public works, which currently has 119,000 miles on it, will probably be put off until next year, Claus said.

“We’re probably going to sacrifice that one,” he said. “We can probably get one more year out of that, just in the interest of having asked for a lot of money for other things. But if doesn’t come this year. it’s probably going to be back [as a request for] next year.”

Sewer work

The wastewater department is looking for $90,000 in the coming year. That includes $20,000 to replace the generator in pump station No. 12 at Goose Rocks Beach by Dyke Road, as well as $30,000 to replace the sidewalls of the compost station, which are “rotting out,” Claus said. Also budgeted is $20,000 for annual grinder pump replacements and $10,000 to replace six Smith & Loveless wet well hatches.

“The old hatches are original with the plant and have become a safety issue,” Claus said. “They [department employees[ would like to get those fixed as they’re not what they consider safe.”

The department also is asking for $5,000 to get its own gas detector, to keep from having to borrow one from the water district, Claus said.

Future CIP plan needs for the sewer department range from $263,00 in next year — to include $200,000 to upgrade the South Main Street pump station — to $45,000 in 2023. However, long term needs past 2023 include annual outlays of $250,000, each, to replace seven pump stations, and $6 million to replace 4.3 miles of sewer lines originally laid in 1972.

Administration

Upcoming CIP projects at town hall include $19,000 to repave around the building, and $5,000 for the ongoing town records preservation project. Town Clerk Tracey O’Roak said there are only three books left to digitize among vital records, while the property assessment books have been completed up to 1944.

“We still have a long way to go,” she told selectmen. “So, I’ll be up here year after year asking for that $5,000 again. But it’s what we need to do as it’s in the best interest of the town to keep the records preserved.”

The CIP plan for the 2020-2021 fiscal year currently includes $50,000 for a document management system that will allow the town to make those historical records accessible to the public online.

Town planner Werner Gilliam has asked for $5,000 to conduct a town survey, updating the collection of public opinion last completed in 2001. He also has requested $20,000 to review town zoning regulations and land use ordinances, in light of a recent housing study that recommended changes to the town’s minimum lot size rules in order to address a local shortage in affordable workforce housing.

Parks and recreation

Sometime after 2023, the parks and rec department is expected to come forward for $300,000 to create a building addition. However, this year it is asking for $50,000 for building furniture and fixtures, as well as $10,000 for improvements to Parson’s Field. According to new assistant director Breese Reagle that outlay could include construction of a dog park.

Also in the offing is $10,000 to rebuild the sledding hill next to Kennebunkport Consolidated School, disrupted by the recent school building renovation project. RSU 21 has plans to spend $52,000 this summer to resolve leftover drainage issues there.

Smith said the town will go through the planning board to engineer a plan to build up “the McCabe property” near the school, “which we are currently not using,” to function as a new sledding hill starting next winter.

Other

Finally, the CIP plan for the new fiscal year to start July 1 also includes $30,000 to repave the town parking lot in Dock Square, as well as $25,000 to make “enhancements” to Union Square. An $87,000 sidewalk replacement plan for Dock Square leading to the Lanigan Bridge will be requested for the 2020 fiscal year. With the police department having just been the beneficiary of a recent station renovation, Chief Craig Sanford is asking for $30,500 in the coming year, to replace a 2015 police cruiser. His capital requests through the balance of the current five-year CIP plan are limited to annual asks of between $30,500 and $62,500, depending on whether one or two cruisers are being rotated out of service that year, although there is a $35,000 line item penciled in for 2021 to replace the HVAC system in the newly expanded station.

Staff Reporter Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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