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by Jonathan Thomas
Sedgwick and Brooksville selectmen had reason to celebrate this holiday season. The last major hurdles are behind them in their efforts to complete the public access road to Walker Pond. At the December 22 bid opening for phase two of the construction, M.E. Astbury & Son’s low bid of $184,060 was comfortably under the $250,000 grant amount that had been promised by the Maine Department of Conservation.
In discussions with state officials as the bid package was being prepared, town officials were told that because of state budget constraints, the full $250,000 originally allocated to the project might not be available, and that the towns might have to make up any shortfall with local funds.
Therefore, it was a relief to town officials when, several days after the bids were opened, Sedgwick First Selectman Neil Davis learned from George Powell at the Department of Conservation that the towns could enter into a contract for the work without having to supply additional matching funds. Davis told The Weekly Packet on December 30 that the contract with Astbury was being prepared and would be signed “soon.” He said it was highly likely that work would begin before the end of January, weather permitting.
Davis said most of the work would be completed before this summer; however, some improvements involving work below the waterline cannot be done until after July 15 for environmental reasons.
Astbury had also been the successful low bidder for the first phase of work last June.
According to the December 22 meeting minutes, representatives of six of the eight contractors who bid witnessed the bid opening by the Sedgwick selectmen at 3 p.m. Also present were Thomas Linscott from the Department of Conservation, the towns’ engineer Andrew McCullough, and former Sedgwick selectman Nelson Grindal, who has been assisting the selectmen.
The second-lowest bid was from Webb Excavation, LLC, for $231,000. The other six bids ranged upwards to $465,460.
At 5:30 p.m., after others had left, the Brooksville selectmen arrived to discuss the outcome with the Sedgwick selectmen. Voting 6-0, the members of the two boards voted to accept the Astbury bid, subject to a commitment from grant administrator Powell.
The letter sent to Powell noted that the two towns had spent “approximately $330,340 on the access road,” and asked the Department of Conservation to “match our effort by covering the remaining $184,060 [the Asbury bid amount] to complete the Walker Pond access road and boat launch.”
The selectmen have also been notified that $16,000 spent on the concrete plank ramp and other waterfront improvements will also be reimbursed.
As reported in the October 20 issue of The Weekly Packet, phase two of the project will widen the newly constructed access road from 10 feet to 22 feet (including shoulders), and complete the waterfront improvements. The road provides access to the pond from Route 15 near Caterpillar Hill.
Brooksville and Sedgwick selectmen will next come together at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, January 11 at the Brooksville Town House for the regular monthly meeting of the Walker Pond Committee.