Bath council puts $2.8M street, sidewalk bond on November ballot

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved sending a $2.8 million bond for street and sidewalk improvements to voters, and set a public hearing for two charter amendments.

The improvements, which include safety upgrades, would take place over the next three to five years, Public Works Director Lee Leiner said in an Aug. 31 memo to the council.

“Staff has done preliminary investigation to generate a broad cost estimate for sizing the bond request,” Leiner said. “If a bond is approved by the voters, more detailed investigations and planning will be necessary to identity a list of streets and sidewalks for improvements.”

The borrowing, if approved in a Nov. 7 referendum, would also provide a source of funding that allows the city to “leverage additional funds available through grant programs with other entities such as the Maine Department of Transportation,” Leiner added.

Most recent street improvements have been paid for by a 2014 bond, funds from which are drying up this year, interim Town Manager Peter Owen told the council Wednesday.

Charter amendments

A public hearing on the two City Charter changes will be held in City Hall Council Chambers at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18. The panel will vote that night whether to send the amendments to November’s referendum.

The first amendment would bring candidate nomination deadlines for city elections in agreement with new Maine law. Instead of nomination papers being available the third Tuesday in August and due back the third Tuesday in September by 5 p.m., they would be available and due back one month earlier.

The second amendment would allow the city manager to live outside of Bath, but only with approval from a majority of the City Council. Currently, the manager does not have to be a resident at the time of appointment, but cannot live outside Bath “during his tenure of office,” according to the charter.

Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco pointed out that Bath is in “an interim situation,” after former City Manager Bill Giroux’s departure in June. Owen is serving as interim manager until a permanent replacement can be found.

Although she would like the next manager to live in Bath, Eosco said, “we might not get somebody who lives in Woolwich, or in Phippsburg, or somebody who’s highly qualified, because they’re settled in their place. So they might not consider applying for this job.”

“My goal is that this is their community,” Eosco added. “This is where they spend their time, this is where they are doing their shopping, and they’re getting to know the people and listening to their constituents.”

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.