More than half of Wolfeboro snow budget spent already

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
February 27, 2014
WOLFEBORO — With only 30 percent of the 20-week snow season covered through Feb. 17, the highway department has spent 52.9 percent of its budget, Public Works Director Dave Ford reported to selectmen at their Feb. 19 meeting.

The recent snow storms, spaced closely together, have had the department running flat out, putting pressure on the 10-man crew, equipment and materials. Already 44.3 percent of the overtime budget has been used, along with 91 percent of the salt budget. With two equipment breakdowns, 45.5 percent of the vehicle maintenance budget has been used and 42.6 percent of the diesel fuel budget is gone.

The only bright spots are sand (25 percent) and downtown snow pickup (0 percent). Ford noted that the $10,500 allocated for snow removal was intended to hire contractors to haul the snow picked up by town loaders. Since town crews have been doing all the work so far, no contractors have yet been hired.

"Normally these things work themselves out, but this year the snow still keeps coming," Ford said.

To stay within budget for the year, cuts will have to be made in summer projects, he said.

With snow banks so high, there is a major problem with intersections, Ford said. Town crews are struggling to cut back town road intersections, but state/town intersections are still dangerous because state crews are also overstretched.

There have been complaints about mailboxes being knocked off by plows. Town crews will get to those situations once they have caught up with the plowing.

Selectman Linda Murray described a problem at Carpenter School where parents dropping off children and school buses arriving can block South Main Street at times. Ford said the snow has been removed in front of the school. In his opinion it was not a public works but an enforcement issue, to keep cars moving and not blocking. A meeting with Principal Jan Brooks would be helpful.

Major projects update

Ford also gave selectmen a status report on 15 major Public Works projects approved by voters from 2007 through 2013.

The only 2007 project still outstanding is the $6.4 million effluent disposal project that created the Rapid Infiltration Basins now the subject of a lawsuit against Wright-Pierce, the engineering firm that designed them and oversaw installation. Designed to dispose of an average 600,000 gallons of effluent a day, Ford reported they have only been averaging 200,000 gallons for the past seven months but even at that level there are still "issues" such as effluent breakouts. The effluent spray fields used previously have been partially reopened and have disposed of 28 million gallons. The balance on this project, $29,432, is being used to fund a study by Underwood Engineers of alternate disposal options.

The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial on April 15. The town is seeking $9 million in damages.

The two projects remaining from 2010 are water line upgrades and the Route 28 corridor study. The remaining section from the top of Cropley Hill to Center Street will be done when the Center Street reconstruction project is done later this year and into 2015. The last part of the Route 28 study involves field visits to view roundabouts as a possible solution for the Center and Main Street intersection. A final report will follow.

The last 2011 project is a design for the reconstruction of Pine Street and Crescent Lake Avenue. Preliminary engineering has been completed. The next steps are a public input session followed by final design.

Three projects remain from 2012. The Wastewater Facility Upgrade should be completed by the end of February. Phase 3 of the Downtown Streets project, involving drainage upgrades for Lehner and Center Streets and drainage swales at Foss Field, will be completed this year, possibly in conjunction with Center Street reconstruction. The third project, Water Meter Upgrades, has suffered delays due to contractor and equipment problems, but the remaining 200 meters will be installed by town crews this spring.

Nine of the 15 projects were approved in 2013. The biggest project is the $2.1 million Center Street reconstruction project. N.H. Department of Transportation has approved preliminary plans and construction drawings are being made. Construction bid date is Aug.1, with construction to begin in September and be completed by the end of 2015. Although efforts will be made to keep drivers posted and schedule work to avoid disruptions, Ford warned that delays on this busy street are inevitable.

Field work has been done on the $400,000 Sewer Collection Upgrade project, but outside of spot repairs, major work will be done when the Center Street project begins.

The $400,000 Public Works Facility Upgrades project is largely complete. The new vehicle lift and fuel pumps have been installed and the replacement building for the garage has been installed. The building is expected to be complete by April 1. A grand opening celebration will be scheduled.

Most of the $600,000 Town Road Upgrade projects were completed in 2013. A balance of $58,635 remains for Cross Road permitting and work, which should be done this year.

Final engineering plans for Middleton Road reconstruction will be completed this spring. Funding for actual construction will depend on a March 11 vote and the timing of the Center Street project, with is also being funded by the state.

The Town Hall Parking lot project is largely complete, with landscaping to be done and light poles installed this spring.

The two remaining projects, the Libby Museum Building Study and Library HVAC Upgrade were approved on one article last year, and overall the two should come in within the combined $100,000 budget. The library project is likely to come in under its $60,000 allocation and the Libby Museum will be over its $40,000 budget and may not be complete until 2015. At the library the adjustment of the heating controls involves trial and error and that is taking time. Ford announced at the meeting the issuance of an emergency purchase order to remove snow from the library's flat roof after a inch deflection was discovered.

Other projects

Town Manager Dave Owen reported on five other warrant articles not involving Public Works.

The $75,000 Public Safety Radio Communications Upgrade authorized in 2012 is complete, leaving a balance of $2,737.

$28,978.58 remaining on the other 2012 Town Hall Repairs & Improvements is being carried over to 2014. Of the nine projects, all but two are complete. Foundation damp-proofing and replacement of front first-floor windows still remain to be done.

The building shell has been completed for the Parks and Recreation Maintenance Building. The project should have been completed by now; the contractor has been fired for breach of contract and it has been learned some subcontractors have not been paid, A new plan to finish the work is being developed.

A preliminary design for the Abenaki Ski Lodge has been completed and is being reviewed and adjusted.

Finally, a contract has been signed on the drainage work on the new Middleton Road cemetery, with work scheduled to begin this spring.

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