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State plans to pave Wolfeboro's Main Street to town line

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
May 31, 2017
WOLFEBORO — At the Board of Selectmen's May 17 meeting Public Works Director Dave Ford discussed plans by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to pave Main Street (Route 109) after Labor Day from the junction with Route 28 at Pickering Corner through downtown and out to the Tuftonboro town line.

Ford pointed out two issues with the project. The first was that the project only includes the 26-foot travel surface, from white line to white line, and thus leaves parking spaces lower than the road surface. Ford said the state will have the contractor taper/grind the edges to lessen the problem.

The second issue concerns upgrading crosswalks. Ford stated that he was told "because funds are coming from the Feds, that any crosswalk that is impacted by the [paving] overlay who have to be brought up to ADA standards." This involves eliminating parking spaces within 20 feet of the crosswalks, adding domes in the pavement at crosswalks to confirm the presence of a walk, and special bright lighting to illuminate the crosswalk.

He gave the board two choices: 1) delay the project and make it into a municipally-managed major project, like Center Street, where the road is totally rebuilt and the state pays two-third of the cost; or 2) delay the major rebuilding seven to 10 years and proceed with the state repaving for now. The road and the water and sewer lines under the road need major upgrades, Ford said, but that work could be put off.

Selectman Linda Murray was in favor of delaying the project and taking the time to decide what should be done, as the town did with the reconstruction of Depot Square.

The rest of the board favored moving ahead with the paving for now. Ford said he would take a "best fit" approach to the crosswalks, including installing the domes but not the lights. At the same time he will rebuild catch basins that are in bad shape but not take out parking spaces.

The work will begin after Labor Day, starting a night from the Tuftonboro town line and working toward downtown.

Water System Asset Management Study

Michael Unger of Underwood Engineers presented a PowerPoint summary of the results of its study of Wolfeboro's water system and its recommendations for an asset management plan.

An effective long-term plan begins with an inventory and evaluation of the assets that make up Wolfeboro's water distribution system. This has been completed. It includes the water treatment facility, water mains, the South Main Street water tank, the pressure-reducing valve station and Middleton Road booster pumping station, water service meters and water department vehicles and equipment.

The age and size of water mains has been mapped along with sites of breaks. The data has also been organized in an Excel spreadsheet. While some pipes date back to 1880, some 83 percent were installed between the years 1960 and 2000. Unger noted that pipes have a useful life of 100 to 120 years. Thus most of the distribution system is not at immediate risk of failure.

However, the study identified five critical areas with the highest probability of water main failure and highest impact if failure occurs: Pine Street (820 linear feet), Main Street (4,370 l.f.), Center Street (7,600 l.f.), Dockside (55 l.f.) and Central Avenue (300 l.f.).

Over the next 120 years the cost of replacing mains based on age and material is $121 million in 2017 dollars. The period when most replacements needed is between 2070 and 2110. The study recommends a long term funding plan broken down into two periods: 0-60 years at $510,000 a year ($31 million total); and 60-120 years at $1,5 million a year ($90 million total).

Establishment of a Water System Capital Reserve Fund is recommended. Near-term projects can be funded through the water departments surplus fund balance until the cost of debt service falls off. As debt service falls, the surplus would be placed in the capital reserve. Major projects can be delayed until reserve funds are available or bonded.

The complete Water System Asset Management Plan is in draft form and being reviewed.

Unger ended the presentation with a list of next steps. Funding recommendations should be incorporated into the town's water rate model, user should be kept informed about projects growing out of the long-term plan and a system should be established to maintains and update the plan over time.

Ford informed the board that a detailed water and sewer rate study will be done over the summer for review in the fall.

Libby Museum update

Alana Albee, who became the new director of the town-owned Libby Museum on May 1, gave her first report. Plans for 2017 include a new logo, a regular feature in the Granite State News, preparation of the nature trail with help from Kingswood students and moving the Indian statue to the start of the trail, disguising the on-site portapotty, networking with other museums, presenting live animal shows and continuing the popular L'il Sprouts program and art/photography exhibits.

She said the collection needs attention, having been last assessed in 1999. Also some signage is not legible and needs painting.

She asked the board to approve increasing the admission fee for the first time in many years from $2 to $5 for adults while eliminating the $1 fee for children under 17 and allowing veterans free admission. Fees generated $1,700 in income in 2016. Since two-thirds of admissions are adults, revenue would double under the new rates.

Selectmen approved the new rates 5-0.

Other business

Ford also presented the issues raised at the Scenic Roads forum on April 6 and gave his recommendations on how to address them. See separate article on this presentation.

He also presented his quarterly capital projects update, which will be reported next week.

The first half property tax warrant for $14,400,023.50 was approved. Property tax bills have been sent out.

Selectmen approved an outdoor temporary event permit for Morning Star Lodge to hold Cross Country and Fun Races on Thursday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m. on July 13 through 27 starting at Abenaki Lodge.

The board also approved a permit for the sale and consumption of beer and wine to the Wolfeboro Historical Society for an event on July 15 fro 3 to 5 p.m. at the Clark House complex on South Main Street.

Finance Direct Pete Chamberlin presented his Monthly Expenditure and Revenue Report through April showing overall expenditures at 33.387 percent of budget one-third of the way through the year. Revenues are at 42 percent of budget.

Selectmen voted to approve and signed a bond resolution for a 20-year bond at $550,000 at 3.75 percent to pay for the Whitten Neck Road water line improvement approved by voters in 2016.

Also approved was a three-year renewal of the lease at the railroad station for the Wolfeboro Cooperative Nursery School, with rent increasing $10 a month each year, from $310 a month in the first year to $330 a month in the third year.

Selectman Murray agreed to represent the town at the Lakes Region Planning Commission annual meeting on June 26 at the Wolfeboro Inn. Gov. Chris Sununu will be the keynote speaker.

Town Manager Dave Owen reported that Shane Pelletier from Bucksport, Maine was hired as the town's new electric lineman, chosen from seven applicants.

A check for $20,000 has been received from the Josiah Brown Trust to fund college scholarships for Wolfeboro students.

Clock faces were removed from the Town Hall tower to repair damage done during the building renovation. They will be missing for only a short time.

Murray and Selectman Dave Senecal will attend the next meeting of the Upper Lakes towns at the Moultonborough town hall on June 6. The group seeks to reduce costs and improve town economies through cooperative efforts.

The next meeting of the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, June 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall on the second floor of Town Hall, which can be accessed from the handicap-accessible rear entrance and the elevator located there.

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