Meeting Minutes

12/10/02, 7:00 PM at the Town Hall



Those Present:  Committee Members: Ken Smith, Reggie McDevitt, George Crawford, Dennis Ford, Dick King, Phil Standel and Bill Pinkham.  Other Attendees: Arthur and Mary Alley and Warren Craft.  Ken noted that John Larson is at a meeting as the Surry CEO.



·        This was a joint meeting of the three subcommittees.

·        The minutes from the November 12 meeting were reviewed.  Reggie moved to accept them as written, Dick. seconded the motion and all were in favor.

·        Ken reported that he met with the selectmen on November 21 (as a follow-up to the October 10 meeting with them).  Jo Cooper was unable to attend the meeting.  He provided them with status updates of both the public works department feasibility study (still on track for a December recommendation) and the search for suitable sites to accommodate a public works complex and, potentially, a new transfer station, fire station and school.  The sites discussed included the Collier parcel across from the town hall, the Forest Pinkham estate parcel on Pinkham Flats Road, the Dottie Higgins estate parcel on the Douglas Highway, and the 90 acre MacQuinn parcel immediately behind the town hall.  Ken noted that no one has walked the MacQuinn parcel (still awaiting permission), but the others were walked by one or more of the committee members.  Ken also briefly mentioned a few of the other parcels that had been considered, but were eliminated for various reasons, and the fact that there were some other possibilities that hadn’t been investigated yet.  The Selectmen felt that the committee also should look at the MacQuinn parcel on the other side of Route 204 from the above parcel.  They also suggested that we drop the Higgins parcel from further consideration, because it is too remote and not even on a roadway for which the town is responsible.  The site they favored was the 90 acre MacQuinn parcel because it is centrally located and large enough to accommodate all of the facilities.  However, they agreed that much of it is wet and that an on-site inspection would be essential.  They also noted that MacQuinn accesses his large adjacent landlocked parcel through this site (in fact, the roadway goes all the way to the Mud Creek Road) and that there’s still some material left in the sand pit immediately behind the town hall that MacQuinn probably wants to retain.  Ken agreed to present the committee’s final recommendations at the Selectmen’s second December meeting.  Ken also asked for and obtained the Selectmen’s approval to meet with the Budget Committee on November 25.


·        Ken reported that he did met with the Budget Committee on November 25.  He briefly summarized the committee’s efforts to date and provided them with a draft copy of a chart showing the proposed PWD responsibilities.  Stu Marckoon suggested that rather than contracting for roadway tree and brush work, the PWD would be able to handle it by simply renting a brush chipper on an as-needed basis.  Ken noted that the item of most concern to the Budget Committee is the study committee’s recommendation to the Selectmen to purchase a parcel of land for a future public works complex and/or other town purposes ASAP.  This recommendation would stand even if the committee’s final recommendation is to defer implementation of a public works department because it is not economically feasible at the present time.  Ken briefly reviewed the sites under consideration, including the asking prices.  They understood that either the committee or the selectmen might be asking them to include a line item in the budget for the purchase.  They expect that it would be financed over a five year period.  Ken also asked them what time period they would recommend for amortizing mobile equipment (10 years) and buildings (30 years).


Facilities - Site Selection

·        Ken indicated that after the Selectmen’s meeting he and Reggie talked by phone and decided to look more closely at the Zerrien parcel, which is located next to Dick’s pit.  Although the town’s tax records show 72.6 acres, Steve Joy advised that they’ve advertised it at 72-87 acres.  The land that the old house sits on was separated into a rectangular 5 acre parcel.  Two additional lots next to the road also were separated from the original lot and both presently have houses on them.  There’s supposed to be 100 feet of road frontage next to Dick’s pit, but this has not been confirmed by a survey.  There’s also 75 feet of road frontage between the 5 acre lot and the outsale, but the property line of the outsale angles toward the 5 acre lot so that the actual separation between the lots narrows down considerably, perhaps to as little as 25 feet.  The sellers presently have no interest in paying for a survey, although Steve felt that they ultimately might agree if the Town makes it a condition of the sale.  The asking price is $86.9K.  Ken and Dick walked along the northerly property line and over the adjacent portion of Dick’s property on December 3.  Ken then continued to walk over the entire NW portion of the site and determined that at least 15-20 acres are usable.  The easterly and southwesterly portions of the property are wet.  A brook, probably seasonal, drains the wet area in the southwest corner and then cuts across the middle of the site draining northeast into Durphy/Archer’s Brook (the brook apparently is called by both names).  There are a few acres of dry land on the easterly side of the brook, but it appears to get wet immediately thereafter.  The northwest quadrant of the site is relatively dry and slopes at a 2-5% slope to the northeast.  The north and south sides of the 5 acre parcel are 545 feet long, which means that the westerly boundary of the property (excluding the two strips of land to Rte. 184) most likely is not on the aquifer.  The balance of the site probably is the same clay that exists just east of Dick’s active pit (a dramatic shift from gravel to clay), which was used to cap the Lamoine landfill, and in MacQuinn’s clay pit that is visible from Rte. 204, which was used to cap the Ellsworth landfill.  Ken noted that this is the best parcel looked at to date.


Ken also indicated that the usability of the parcel could be enhanced considerably if it were combined with the back portion of Dick’s parcel, which Dick has previously indicated a willingness to sell.  He also would be willing to include a right-of-way from Rte. 184, which probably would significantly reduce the cost of the access road and preserve more of the existing wooded area to serve as a buffer between the access road and the 5 acre parcel.  Dick verified these discussions and indicated that the price probably would be $30-$40K.


        Ken suggested that it would be desirable for other committee members to walk the site with him.  George and Bill offered to do so.  The group will meet at the town hall on Monday, December 16 at 1:00.


·        Ken reviewed the results of the walk throughs for each of the other sites under consideration, which are summarized in the following bullets.


·        The 22 acre Higgins parcel (estate of) located on Rte. 184 abuts Susan Herrick’s and George Crawford’s property on its north edge.  Ken, George, John W. and Stu walked the parcel on November 21, accessing it from George’s property.  Although not walked, Stu indicated that the section near the street is very wet (it appears that the small pond between Susan and Albert, adjacent to the road, is the “headwaters” of one of the brooks that crosses the Collier parcel).  There is a second brook further in that runs southerly from George’s property across the entire parcel.  This brook has formed a 30-40 ft deep gully that the access road would need to cross, which would be expensive.  The land beyond the brook rises toward the west at a 5-10% slope and could be readily developed.  However, the portion of the site beyond 800 feet from Rte. 184 is residentially zoned.  Since municipal activities are not permitted in the residential zone, a zoning change would be required.  No asking price has been established since the parcel is not yet officially on the market.


·        The 49 acre Collier parcel is rectangular with about 1,800 feet of frontage on Rte. 184 and 1,450 feet on Rte. 204.  George walked the site in early November and Ken and John W. walked it on November 21 (easterly portion).  Three brooks cross the northerly boundary.  The easterly two join about half way through the property and the remaining two join at a “pond” (wet area) adjacent to Rte. 204, about 900 feet from Rte. 184.  With the exception of the south end, the field on the east side of the site is relatively dry, although the shallow slope is slow to drain and depressions tend to trap water.  The soils in the field support white pines, which means that they are well drained –probably over gravel deposits.  The land immediately west of the field is poorly drained (relatively flat) with a number of wet areas.  However, there is a slight “knoll” that covers a few acres in the woods beyond the field near the north end of the site.  The small brook that enters the site from the north at the edge of the field turns immediately west and then to the south around the knoll.  This area would be suitable for the public works complex and the existing woods would provide a sufficient buffer.  This site has the same constraint as the Higgins parcel, which is that the residential zone begins 800 feet from Rtes. 184 and 204.  This leaves a 650x1,000 ft block in the residential zone, although this portion of the site is not readily usable anyway because of the brooks.  The asking price is now $190K – it was $249K.


·        The Pinkham site is listed in the tax records as having 34 acres, but it is being advertised as having 45 acres with 580 feet of frontage.  The overall site is 780 feet wide, but there was a 200x600 foot outsale on the northwest corner.  George walked the site in early November and Ken walked it today (December 10).  Durphy/Archer’s Brook cuts across a small area at the southeast corner of the site and then cuts across the entire northerly portion of the site from southeast to northwest behind the existing mobile home.  There is a two foot high, 100 foot long beaver dam just inside the woods line.  An old tote road runs north-south across the length of the site.  Although the road itself is located on a slight knoll and is relatively dry, the property becomes wet on either side.  The width of the dry knoll varies from about 100 to 400 feet.  The north end of the site that abuts Rte. 204 is a dry field that is actively hayed.  The asking price is $149K.


·        The 90 acre MacQuinn property behind the town hall includes the old sand pit and considerable frontage on Route 204.  In fact, the easterly boundary of the property is Durphy/Archer’s Brook.  Ken and Stu walked the property on November 29 and Ken walked the easterly end again today (December 10).  The sand pit does not appear to be active, but it has not been reclaimed.  It appears as if the aquifer ends just beyond the edge of the sand pit, which is consistent with the aquifer map.  Spring Brook cuts across the northeast corner of the site and then becomes the northeast boundary of the site as it flows southeast to Mud Creek.  Mud Creek and Durphy/Archer’s Brook then form the southeast boundary.  The land north of Spring Brook is mostly dry and the slope varies from 1-2% in the vicinity of the property line to about 5% as it slopes toward the brook.  The land on the south side of Spring Brook and east of the sand pit is predominantly wet with some interspersed dry “knolls.”  In this area there are a number of small drainage courses that flow to the two brooks and to Mud Creek.  Some of these have been blocked with small beaver dams.  Although the areas north of Spring Brook and immediately east of the sand pit could be used for a public works complex, they are relatively small and would involve wetland issues.  Dick reminded the group that, as he had indicated at the last meeting, several years ago a large quantity of stumps had been hauled in from out of town and buried in the pit area before the town interceded to end the practice.  These could be buried in the higher ground that exists immediately east of the pit.  The other issues brought up by the selectmen, as noted above, also would need to be taken into consideration if this site is selected.  A price for this parcel would need to be negotiated with Ron MacQuinn. 


·        The MacQuinn parcel located across Rte. 204 from the above parcel contains 24 acres (according to the town tax records).  It is a triangular parcel that, according to the tax maps, ends in the vicinity of Durphy/Archer's Brook.  Ken walked the site today (December 10).  At some point, gravel was removed from the wider west end of the site leaving a relatively steep bank.  Immediately east of this bank is a water-filled clay pit that was formed when the material was excavated for capping the Ellsworth landfill.  The shift from the gravel aquifer to the clay is dramatic and similar to the conditions observed in Dick’s pit as mentioned above.  The ground immediately east of the clay pit slopes quickly to a relatively flat area (1-2% slope) that continues to the east end of the site, which is the apex of the triangle.  The flat area is quite wet in places.  A snowmobile trail from Dick’s pit cuts across the easterly end of the site.  If the clay pit was filled, the west end of the site probably could be used for the construction of a highway garage, but it would not be large enough to include a transfer station or other town facilities.  A price for this parcel would need to be negotiated with Ron MacQuinn.


·        Bill asked about putting the committee’s recommendation to acquire the land to a referendum vote rather than going through the town meeting.  He felt that there would be better voter representation using the referendum mechanism.  Arthur indicated that this request could be made to the selectmen.  Ken agreed to bring the subject up at next week’s meeting with the selectmen.  Action: Ken.


·        Reggie suggested that the committee should have a backup site in case the prime site is rejected by the selectmen or it is sold.  The group agreed that the 90 acre MacQuinn site, although far less desirable, would be the second choice and the Pinkham site would be third.


Transportation - Needs


·        Reggie reported that he had talked with Mt. Desert regarding their public works department.  They have 27 miles of town-maintained roads plus 10 miles of state-aid roads.  They collect their own trash and haul it to the EMR transfer station in Southwest Harbor.  They have five 6 wheelers (no 10 wheelers) and two trash trucks.  The department personnel include a manager, supervisor, foreman, two mechanics, two drivers in the winter and three in the summer.  The starting wage is $10.75/hr.  Although their staffing is considerably higher than ours, everyone agreed that our department can easily be run with four employees, since Medway does it with three employees and they have considerably more road mileage.  Ken reported that he had checked with Ellsworth and their union truck drivers make $9-$12/hr.  We are using $10/hr for a truck driver and $12/hr for an equipment operator/truck driver.  The group saw no reason to change our wage rates.


·        Ken had prepared a chart for the Budget Committee meeting that describes the various alternatives considered, specifically the division of responsibilities between the PWD and outside contract services.  This chart was updated December 3 to include PWD responsibility for tree and brush removal as recommended by Stu at the Budget Committee meeting and distributed with the minutes of the previous meeting and the agenda for this meeting.  Ken noted that the line item entitled “Park/Cemetery Maintenance” should be changed to “Contract” for all alternatives since it is only for payments to the veterans to place flags and not for mowing or grave digging, which are performed by the cemeteries.  After reviewing the chart, no one had any further changes.


·        At the last meeting, Dennis had suggested that we include a sixth alternative, which would be to reduce the staffing by one person and hire a contractor to provide one truck and driver in the winter to plow and sand on an as-needed basis at an agreed upon hourly rate.  Ken indicated that he had not included this alternative, because he did not have enough information to prepare the estimate.  The group estimated an hourly contract rate of $75/hr and a usage of about 150 hours per year (10 hr/day for 15 days/yr).  It also was suggested that, under this alternative only, a used six wheel truck should be substituted for the new one in the present estimate.  After some additional discussion, the group decided that it was not worth pursuing this alternative any further.  This decision was based on today’s decision to reduce the recommended staff from four to three employees, the relatively small cost savings, the administrative issues of calling in and monitoring the contractor and the confusion that the explanation of this alternative probably would create at the town meeting,


Cost Estimate Review


·        Ken had developed a detailed cost estimate for buildings and equipment and another for the annual operating costs (dated December 3) that also were distributed with the minutes of the previous meeting and the agenda for this meeting.  Both estimates were based on cost information provided at past meetings and cost data gleaned from the Medway and East Millinocket annual reports. 


·        The department staffing was discussed at length.  The decision finally was made to reduce the staffing from four to three, primarily since Medway is able to get by with three as noted above.  The truck driver will be eliminated and the foreman, mechanic and operator/driver retained. 


·        The overtime allowances and wage rates were OK.  Dick suggested that we may want to consider a part time person during the winter to reduce the overtime and burnout of the employees.  It was agreed that this may be a good idea, but the estimated cost does not need to be changed.


·        The miscellaneous employee cost allowances of $1K for the foreman and $500 for each employee were considered too high.  Ken will reduce them to $800 and $400 respectively.


·        Both Dennis and Dick thought the $5K fuel/lubricant costs were much too low, perhaps even half of what they should be.  Ken indicated that he had based them on Medway, but agreed to dig into it further [the fuel/lubricant costs were increased to $10,500 based on a subsequent conversation with Dick about hours of operation and fuel consumption].


·        Bill questioned the vehicle/equipment parts and tires estimate of $6K.  It was agreed to increase this to $8K.


·        Dick felt that we should increase the $1.5K contract services estimate for roadway maintenance to $5K.  However, it was agreed that the only required services, other than those separately listed in the estimate, would be for asphalt patching following culvert installations by the PWD.  Therefore, it was decided to leave the estimate as is.


·        There was considerable discussion of the shelving, tools and parts inventory allowance of $15K.  Initially, some thought it was too high, but, after discussing it further, the decision was made to increase it to $20K.


        Ken had initially thought that the town should be able to purchase a good used, 100 cy steel transfer trailer at $20K, but one of his former co-workers who has purchased a number of them felt that a good, re-furbished unit, which is what we want, would be about $25K.


·        The $50K estimate for the recyclables collection vehicle was based on using a hooklift on a medium duty, six wheel chassis.  Ken’s co-worker had recently purchased a heavier duty, “loaded” unit for $65K and suggested that Ken’s estimate might be a little low.  Ken will look at this again and increase if necessary [subsequently increased to $55K].


·        Ken agreed to make the changes noted above prior to his presentation to the selectmen next week.


Next Full Committee Meeting:  The need for a January meeting will depend on the outcome of the meeting with the selectmen.  If one is required, it was agreed that it would be on Tuesday, January 14, 7:00PM at the town hall (if available, otherwise at the school).  [NOTE: A JANUARY MEETING ISN’T REQUIRED].


The meeting adjourned at 9:10 PM.


Respectfully submitted,


Ken Smith