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Solutions for icy downtown sidewalks
RUMFORD -- At the selectmen's meeting Thursday, Board Chairman Greg Buccina voiced a concern for people slipping on the sidewalk downtown.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said in the event of a snowstorm or freezing rain in the downtown, the highway department is sometimes in the process of addressing potential issues on the sidewalks. He added that people can call the police department (364-4551) weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. if they have an issue with slippery sidewalks.
He noted that if the police department is not available is not available, people can call the non-emergency county dispatch number of 743-9554, and they will contract the police department "to let us know we have to take care of the situation."
Puiia noted that in the case of slippery sidewalks, people can only call 911 if they have fallen or injured themselves.
In other business, Phil Blampied, representing the Strathglass Park Preservation Society, presented a proposal that involved work along the back line of Strathglass Park on Hancock Street.
He said currently, weed trees and brush overhangs the wall, saplings are growing into overhead wires, an old fense leans over the wall, and tree stumps are rotting on the road shoulder.
In the short term, Blampied said he would like to trim back the vegetation, remove sapling trees, erect a sound barrier plank fence (four to six feet high) from Maine Avenue to the Strathglass walkway, and remove the stumps.
The cost for the short term is estimated at $4,000.
That work would be performed next fall or the spring of 2013 following planning, fundraising and securing property owner permission.
In the long term, Blampied would like to replace the street lights with historic luminaries, replant appropriate trees, perhaps memorial trees to raise funds, bury overhead lines in underground conduit, and brick the walkway as far as driveways on the other side of the walkway.
The long term work would cost an estimated $12,000.
Overall, Blampied said the work would probably take a couple of years.
Blampied was seeking the permission of the Board of Selectmen to proceed with the project, saying that the wall is probably the property of the town, adding, "Maybe homeowners will chip in on some of the cost."
He said, "There's no plans to fix the wall at this point. We will remorter it down the line."
Selectman Jeremy Volkernick suggested that if the wall is found to be town property, maybe it can be part of the town's five-year plan.
Blampied said the Preservation Society is on board with this project, adding that their numbers have dwindled over time. "We don't get a lot of help as far as volunteering. There's a lot of vacant buildings. It would be nice to get the resources to fix those up."
One of the homeowners, Richard Skagliola, who has said in the past that they are being shut out of the process and not aware of changes being proposed, told selectmen, "I feel frustrated. People are claiming ideas as their own."
Before leaving the meeting, he complained about "railroading techniques."
Selectman Jolene Lovejoy toured the park and noted some individuals homeowners there have done some considerable work on their homes. "I commend the people for the good things going on there."
Puiia said the issue is not knowing the owner of the wall, suggesting that there could be a joint ownership.
Board Chairman Greg Buccina followed that by saying they would be wise to learn about the ownership before the project proceeds.
Blampied responded, "You already gave permission to do work on another section of the wall."
Last May, following two years of fundraising, organizing and negotiating, the Strathglass Park Preservation Society concluded a $6,000 project, which include new historic-style luminiaries attached to the 16-foot granite pillars. It also included repairing the mortar on the pillars and the gate wings.
Blampied said that was followed by repairing the wall leading from the gate toward York Street, with an estimated cost of $1,000.
He also asked for remediation of an endangered duplez at 22/24 Erchles. He suggested that the town's revolving loan fund be utilized to "save that building, as opposed to the cost of demolition."
Selectman Jeff Sterling asked, "What should be town's role be in Strathglass Park?"
Volkernick questioned the board getting involved with this when "we're trying to find ways to save our town money. It should be up to the taxpayers."