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Greenville

$350K more OK’d for High Street

Additional funds allow road stabilization

GREENVILLE — Long-awaited construction on a $1.85 million project to stabilize and reopen High Street will be moving forward, after voters approved $350,000 in additional funds at a brief Special Town Meeting on Wednesday night.

It was standing room only, with about 50 people filling the small meeting room of the Town Hall, as residents gathered to hear a warrant calling for nearly $350,000 to fix High Street, with 75 percent of that cost to be reimbursed to the town through federal grant funds. The road has been closed to through traffic since 2010, when a mudslide left the road unsafe. There is the threat that the road could suffer further collapse if the slope is left unstabilized. Residents approved $1.5 million in state and federal funds at the 2012 Town Meeting to fix the road, but after the engineering phase was completed and construction bids came in, the town realized funds were going to fall short of the prospective cost.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to reimburse the town 75 percent of the additional cost, or $260,787. The rest of the funds, $86,929, will be raised through taxation.

After a brief explanation of the history of the project by Bob Durfee, the project manager, there were few questions from the crowd Wednesday night.

Resident George Alex asked that if the 10 percent contingency built in to the cost was not needed, if that money would be returned to taxpayers . Town Administrator Kelley Collins said that the town would pay the construction costs, and be reimbursed 75 percent of what was paid by FEMA. If there are any funds raised that are not spent on the project, they will be returned to the townspeople, she said.

The public then took a voice vote on the warrant, which was overwhelmingly approved, with less than a handful of “nay” votes. The meeting only lasted a total of 20 minutes.

Select Board Chair Brenda Bergeron said in a phone interview Thursday that she wasn’t surprised that the meeting had gone so quickly. “A lot of people have been to previous meetings and it wasn’t that long ago we had a public hearing to talk about it,” said Bergeron. “Everyone’s been following it from day one, so I didn’t expect that many questions.”

Now that the additional funds can be approved, the town will be moving on to the construction phase quickly, said Bergeron, to be able to complete the work before the end of the year.

As of Monday, the town was still trying to contact the lowest bidder, TBuck Construction of Auburn, Maine, to arrange for the start of construction. TBuck’s bid was $1,400,400.

“I just hope that it gets moving and we can finally put this baby to bed before winter,” Bergeron said. “It’s just been so long. It’ll be nice to get it back going and make sure that everyone that lives up there feels secure again.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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