Bath council OKs firefighter contracts, changes on 3 streets

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday gave unanimous preliminary support to traffic safety changes on Richardson and Pearl streets and Western Avenue, along with firefighter contracts for the next year and a half.

The panel also unanimously re-elected Chairwoman Mari Eosco to that position and Sean Paulhus as vice chairman.

The council has at recent meetings heard concerns from residents about traffic flow along Richardson Street and Western Avenue. The streets run through high-density neighborhoods between U.S. Route 1 and High Street (Route 209), and are used as shortcuts by motorists to reach the north end of Bath, Police Chief Mike Field said in a Nov. 28 memo to the council.

Dan Dunn of Richardson Street was among those who complained oversized vehicles are allowed on a road posted at 20 mph. “They’re doing 30 and 40,” he said last month, “and you’re talking about dump trucks pulling trailers, and you’re in a residential neighborhood, and you have young families in the area that have young children.”

As a result of such concerns, the council granted first passage to an ordinance change that would ban commercial vehicles larger than two axles from traveling Richardson Street and Western Avenue. Such vehicles, except for those servicing those streets, would only be allowed with permission from the police chief.

Signs will be posted indicating the change, and word will go out to businesses, Field told councilors Wednesday.

The council also granted first passage to an ordinance banning parking along the south side of Pearl Street from Washington to Willow street. The street currently has no restrictions.

“The city recently finished a major construction project where the north side has new curbing and a sidewalk which is more adaptive for on-street parking,” Field said in a Nov. 29 memo to the council. “If two vehicles park on each side, parallel to each other, it would restrict movement on the street, especially a fire truck, for example.”

The council also gave preliminary approval to contracts with the city’s fire captains and firefighters. The pacts are good for 18 months, from Jan. 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. They include  a 2 percent salary increase in 2018 and another 2 percent raise in 2019, according to interim Town Manager Peter Owen.

Second and final passages for all the ordinances and contracts are scheduled for the council’s meeting on Jan. 3, 2018.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.