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New salt shed proposal moves forward in Wakefield

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
May 22, 2014
WAKEFIELD — Selectman Charlie Edwards once again presented his proposal for replacing Wakefield's failing salt shed with two smaller sheds at the board's May 14 meeting. While Selectman Chair Ken Paul still had concerns, Selectman Connie Twombley voted to move ahead to see if the two concrete and steel sheds could be constructed for the $75,000 available.

Edwards has been developing plans for a replacement shed since last year, and on April 23 he presented a proposal for two SteelMaster sheds installed on 8-foot concrete walls, rather than a single replacement building. Paul raised a number of concerns about the durability of the building, the soils at the proposed site, and the wisdom of the town managing the project instead of using an outside contractor. Since Twombley was on vacation that week, a final decision was deferred until the May 14 meeting when she could participate.

Edwards reported that Road Agent Fred Clough had dug test pits at the preferred site. Clough confirmed that the soil was the same at the bottom as at the top and that the proposed location was much better because it was drier than the current shed location and will get winter sun.

Edwards also reported that SteelMaster provides a 30-year warranty on its steel section and confirmed the building was designed as a salt shed. If there were still concerns about corrosion, the inner part could be coated with what amounts to a Kilz primer.

Edwards said the company told him 90 percent of towns put up the buildings themselves rather than having the company erect them. He said he had seen a similar shed in Brownfield, Maine.

Town Administrator Teresa Williams addressed the issue of whether two buildings could be erected instead of one and reported the trustees of the trust funds said two buildings are acceptable within the total of $75,000 in the capital reserve.

Paul said he was "not a fan of concrete and metal being used for a salt shed," but called the vote. The vote was 2-1, with Edwards and Twombley in favor and Paul opposed.

The next step is to get firm bids on concrete work and assembly costs.

Maple Street bridge

Annette Perry of Union had an appointment to discuss again the closed Maple Street bridge in Union but was unable to come to the meeting due to illness. Instead, Rose Gray of Union asked about the prospects for getting the bridge repaired, and said she was concerned about safety in light of a recent fire nearby.

Paul noted that the bridge was closed due to structural issues and the town was told it needs to be replaced completely at an estimated total cost of $880,000. There are other bridges needing work in town – with the Canal Road bridge that connects Wakefield with Acton, Maine, being high priority. Union residents have the Bridge Street bridge as an alternative route for access.

Williams said she talked with Fire Chief Todd Nason, who said the last fire in Union was knocked down fast, so not being able to use the Maple Street bridge was not a problem; in a large structure fire, however, not being able to use that bridge could be a problem.

Williams also said she looked at the reports on the bridge, which cited its poor abutments but noted it had a good deck. Since abutments were also the problem on the North Wakefield Road bridge, perhaps the Maple Street abutments could be replaced at a lower cost. She noted that a specific capital reserve could be set up for the Union bridge and built up over a few years.

As for getting repair estimates, an environmental impact statement would be needed first at a cost of $5,000

Edwards suggested to Gray raising money to hire an engineer to look at the bridge and evaluate it for repairs.

No further action was taken.

Winter sand bids

Selectmen open two sealed bids for 3,000 cubic yards of winter sand. The winning bid, for $4.50 a cubic yard picked up or $7 a yard delivered, was from last year's supplier, Turcotte. Landscapers Depot did $8.50 a yard delivered with no pickup option.

Clough said the Turcotte bid was the same as last year and that a round trip was 12 miles.

Williams noted the town charged only $4 a yard last winter, losing 50 cents a yard.

Edwards said the price the town charges contractors should be the same as its cost. Paul agreed but felt the price should be set later in the summer.

Clough said he plans to build a lean-to with lumber from the old salt shed where residents can load buckets of sand for personal use. The main sheds would be behind a locked gate and only open when department personnel were available to service contractors.

Other business

John Fornier met with selectmen to discuss how to get the town line corrected so his house is officially in Middleton. See separate story in this issue.

Nicole Schmidt met with the board and got permission to hold an inaugural 24-mile run to raise funds for a pediatric brain surgery program on Aug. 9. The main course would be a circuit three times around Lovell Lake using Oak Hill Road. Also offered would be an 8-mile run as one circuit. Awards would go to the top fundraisers and runners would be limited to 50. Poor People's Pub would be the sponsor.

Selectmen received only one bid for a tax-deeded property on Deer Run Road. At $2,050 it was $250 less than taxes owed plus interest, but by selling it the property would go back on the tax roll. The bid from Shannon Alden was accepted.

The board approved a request for $4,900 from ClearView Community TV in reimbursement of expenses incurred for the public access television station. That amount was just received from Time Warner as its first franchise fee payment under the new contract.

ClearView President Jim Miller said the group is pursuing 501(c)3 status from the Internal Revenue Service and requested that the town continue to pay wages until IRS approval is received.

Selectmen accepted with regret the resignation of David Stevens from the Board of Assessors and approved the request of Assessors Rosemary Stuart and Arlene Fogg that Relf Fogg be appointed to serve in Stevens' place until next March. Selectmen will send a letter of appreciation to Stevens thanking him for his years of service to the town.

Michael Keefe was also appointed to the Agriculture Commission, filling a vacancy.

The board approved a request from the Town of Tamworth for office partitions stored in the Public Safety Building. The town has no plans for the used partitions and agreed to provide them at no cost.

Also approved was a request from Fire Chief Nason to write off a $783 ambulance bill that a resident could not pay.

Once again the Strafford Regional Planning Commission submitted a bill for annual dues of $5,719. Once again there is no money in the budget for the dues.

Williams reported that the town finally received a check from the state for $14,987 for wastewater treatment work done a few years ago.

The next meeting of the Wakefield Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, May 28, at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall meeting room.

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