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Sanbornton says yes to stimulus money for drainage repairs

Chairmen of the Sanbornton Selectmen Dave Nickerson explains the stimulus funding at a special Town Meeting held Aug. 18. The town was made eligible for a 50 percent forgiven bond to fix infrastructure problems along Lake Winnisquam. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
August 27, 2009
SANBORNTON — A public hearing followed by a special Town Meeting brought Sanbornton residents out to discuss and then vote on whether to accept and expend American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money for infrastructure repairs in the town.

The stimulus package offered to Sanbornton granted them $918,280, half of which would be forgiven and the remaining $459,140 would be repaid over five years at 1.17 percent interest or 2.34 percent over 10 years.

Selectman Andrew Livernois explained that the Department of Environmental Services mandated repairs to the infrastructure along Maple Circle, Dr. True Road and Gray Road after storm damage in 2006. When the culverts and catch basins failed in that storm tons of silt were deposited in Lake Winnisquam.

A 2007 Comprehensive Drainage Report estimated the repairs would cost up to one million dollars. Lacking the funds to do the work all at once, Phase One of the project was done, installing three new culverts in the area. The town still needed to complete the remaining sections of culvert and repairs along the three roads.

"Then in 2009 the Recovery Act is passed," Livernois said, "and suddenly there is money there for towns, for roads with environmental impact."

Town Administrator Bob Veloski and the selectmen began to look for "shovel ready" projects for which they could apply and the Maple Circle project fit the protocol. A month ago they were told they had been accepted to receive the full amount requested at a price some in attendance last Tuesday called irresistible.

"To only pay back 50 percent at that interest rate is phenomenal," said resident Paul Colp.

"We'd be crazy not to go with it," his wife Norma Colp agreed.

A few residents voiced concern over the design drawn up by engineer Paul Fluet. The plans call for a series of drainage culverts on the roads with pools and then a catch basin located atop a small private beach.

The beach association has not yet given permission for the work on the top of their property. Town officials, the selectmen said, hope to continue to work with the group in reaching an agreement. Livernois said that, if necessary, that part of the project could be left out of the plans for the time being so as not to hold up the project. Ultimately, he noted, the town could claim eminent domain on the property but he would prefer to see an agreement worked out.

Kevin Hilbrunner and Dave McLaughlin of Maple Circle were two who spoke up against the current plans. They disagreed with the design and McLaughlin failed to see how the culverts alone would make a difference.

"This fails to solve the root cause problem," he told the selectmen. "It's the dirt road on Dr. True Rd. Silt comes down when it rains then the Town throws more dirt on the road."

A pool along the top of the beach to catch rain water he thought would create mosquito problems in the summer and pose a potential danger for children in the area.

Chairman Dave Nickerson explained the ARRA funds do not allow for paving costs in the project. The money is designated for restructuring drainage and enlarging the culverts to ease silting problems at the lake.

Shute Hill Bridge and improved drainage beside it was also included in the proposal.

Nickerson told the assembly that they are asked to spend all of the requested money and Shute Hill Bridge was added when cost estimates showed there would be leftover money from the Maple Circle project to fix drainage in the Shute Hill area. Should any funds be unused at the end of both projects, the Town will be able to utilize it for repayment on the bond.

The Town will later decide how the note is to be repaid. Over five years it would add 24 cents per thousand to the tax rate or 14 cents per thousand over ten years. An informal straw vote Tuesday evening showed most were in support of a five year bond.

Resident Jeff Jenkins voiced his support for the five year note, saying, "I would want to get it over with and move on to other projects ahead in the town."

Balloting followed the one-hour hearing with a total of 61 votes cast. The necessary two-thirds was easily met with 53 votes to accept the ARRA funding, eight voting against it.

Selectmen and the town administrator are now filling out the paperwork for the stimulus funds and will begin the bid process shortly. Final paperwork for the accepted bid must be signed and delivered to Concord by the first of November. Once a bid has been accepted, work may begin right away or could be put off until spring should frost permeate the ground before they can begin.

Martin Lord Osman
Coos County Commissioners
Tilton School
Town & Country
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