BRUNSWICK — The Town Council on Monday cleared the way for long-awaited improvements to a half-mile stretch of Bath Road, a project estimated to cost $2.15 million.
The project includes widening the stretch of road between Thomas Point Road and Old Bath Road. To make it happen, the council on Monday unanimously agreed to lengthen by 10 years the duration of an existing Tax Increment Finance district and authorized a bond of $1.25 million. Those two funding sources will be combined with another $900,000 in impact fees collected from various developments in the Cook’s Corner area.
The bond authorization adds another $500,000 to a previous estimate to account for increased project costs. Finance Director John Eldridge told the council he hoped the project would come in well short of the $2.15 million budget, but recommended the higher authorization just in case.
The council also altered the size of the Bath Road TIF district, reducing it from 262 acres to about 76 acres. Town officials reasoned that shrinking the district would allow the town to use the TIF acreage elsewhere, potentially downtown.
The town is looking for property for a new police station. Town Manager Gary Brown said Tuesday that while the town doesn’t have a specific property in mind, he said shrinking the TIF on Bath Road could potentially allow the town to use its proceeds on a police station. The caveat, Brown said, is linking the station to a development producing new value.
An example, Brown said, is occurring in Topsham, where the town’s new public safety building is being partially funded by a TIF created for the Highlands Retirement Community.
There’s been some speculation that Brunswick will create a TIF district around the $23.5 million Maine Street Station project. However, when asked if that was the town’s intention, Brown said it would be difficult to use Maine Street Station because the project probably wouldn’t create enough short-term value.
The town’s Capital Improvement Program includes a $6.65 million allocation for the police station in the 2010-2011 fiscal year. However, given budget reductions expected because of the scheduled 2011 closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station, some councilors are hoping to spend far less than that.
The council’s police station subcommittee recently advised against using the town-owned building on Industry Road for the new station, in part because the committee determined costs would exceed $5 million. The subcommittee’s report said a newly-constructed, similarly sized building could cost about $4.1 million.
During the council’s Sept. 21 meeting, Brown said he expected to present the council with another option for the Police Department sometime this month.
Public Works Director John Foster said Monday that the Bath Road widening project would likely begin next spring.