More money needed to fix High Street
Greenville will need to hold a special Town Meeting to raise additional funds to repair High Street, after bids for the project came in over the amount approved in March. (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
GREENVILLE — Since 2010, residents of Greenville have been eager to see High Street, closed to through traffic due to a landslide, cleared for travel once again. After approving the expenditure of nearly $1.5 million in state and federal funds at the 2012 Town Meeting, they were hopeful that the issue would be resolved this year. But the town is facing one more stumbling block: Insufficient money to do the job.
After receiving bids for the construction phase of the project, Select Board members discovered there isn’t enough money allocated to complete the project, even if they accepted the lowest bid. And with a time limit on some of the grants provided for the construction, the town must finish construction this summer.
The solution, according to Select Board members, is to call a special Town Meeting in order to raise close to $208,000 to finish the job. Board members said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is expected to cover a large portion of the additional cost, but not all of it. On Friday, the Select Board met with representatives from FEMA, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Dubois and King, the company that has done the engineering phase of the High Street project, to discuss options for closing the gap between the resources dedicated to the project, and the lowest bid received.
In March of 2012, the town voted to accept $1,467,127 in funds from FEMA, State and N.H. Homeland Security and Emergency Management and a Community Block Grant for the project. Now that engineering and planning phases are complete, $1,192,000 is left. But the lowest bid for the project, from T Buck Construction of Auburn, Maine, came in at $1,400,000 — leaving the town short.
Town Administrator Kelley Collins said if the board sought a re-bidding process, the town might lose part of the summer construction season, not leaving enough time to finish the job.
Bob Durfee of Dubois and King told the board he could only hold the bids for 60 days. After that, the submitting company would no longer be bound to the price. In order to secure the bid, the board decided to award the project to T Buck Construction, with the condition that additional funds would have to be approved at a special Town Meeting.
The planned construction would repair the landslide damage and open the road, but the town also has the option of continuing the repairs on the road, improving drainage on the rest of the slope from the top of the hill to decrease the chance of further landslides. However, plans to do so were not included in the original scope of the project and would cost an additional $269,000.
It would be in the best interests of the town to do the construction all at once, said Select Board member Tony Ste. Marie. “We don’t want to be back here again,” he said.
But if the Select Board has to ask townspeople for money, the main project should be the priority, said Select Board Chair Brenda Bergeron. Securing the money needed for the completion of the already-planned construction, she said, and should be considered separately from stabilizing the rest of the slope.
“We’re not going to jeopardize the main project for add-ons,” she said.
Bergeron and Ste. Marie agreed there should be two separate articles at a special Town Meeting, one for funds for the planned project, and the other to fund work on the rest of the slope.
Larry Martin, the FEMA public assistance coordinator, assured the Select Board that FEMA would cover 75 percent of the cost of the construction directly related to clearing High Street. However, he would have to discuss whether the additional slope stabilization, which had never been part of the original scope of the project, would also be subject to the same assistance. It likely would be, he said.
“We don’t want to come out here again a year later if the whole thing fails,” he said.
Martin told the board that he would be able to answer definitively whether FEMA would fund a portion of the remaining slope stabilization later this week.
The Select Board is conferring with town counsel on the process for calling a special Town Meeting.
The Select Board meets on the second and fourth Wednesday in the lower portion of the Town Hall at 5:30 p.m.