CMP halts Harpswell utility work to address residents' concerns
HARPSWELL — Central Maine Power Co. halted work along Route 24 this week after some residents expressed concerns about four new utility poles blocking a scenic view of Long Reach Marsh.
During a public hearing at the Oct. 18 Board of Selectmen meeting, resident John Boomer said he is concerned about the poles blocking the view of the marsh on Orr's Island, where he lives.
"There are four new poles that just been installed on the west side of Route 24, and I feel they will significantly impact the view of the marsh,"Boomer said during the hearing. "Although I'm in favor of improving electrical/telephone/cable TV reliability in Harpswell, this doesn't seem to be part of it. "
Boomer asked selectmen to ask CMP to stop work in that area. And he suggested that CMP should remove the poles and install them on the opposite side of the road, where the old poles stood.
Reed Coles, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust executive director, Monday said the trust has taken no stance on the issue, but is "always interested in protecting the town's scenic vistas."
Boomer, a HHLT trustee, said he spoke at the public hearing on his own behalf.
"For me and several of my friends the Long Reach Marsh is one of the iconic views in Harpswell," Boomer said. "Many people live in Harpswell and come touristing to Harpswell to see the magnificent views such as this one."
And to support his argument for protecting the town's scenic views, Boomer cited a community viewpoint survey finished by the HHLT in May that found many residents value the preservation of scenic vistas in town.
"I think in addition to it being the scenic view that we all like, I think these scenic views are vital to our economic development," Selectmen Jim Henderson said in response to Boomer's appeal.
Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said the town made initial contact with CMP before and after the Oct. 18 meeting. She said CMP agreed to stop work on those utility poles and to review any viable alternatives.
CMP spokesman Jon Carroll said the company, along with the Maine Department of Transportation, reviewed the area of concern Wednesday afternoon.
"We met with the Maine Department of Transportation and we are going to look if there are any changes that can be done," Carroll said. He said CMP wants find a resolution that will meet everyone's satisfaction, but it will take a week or so to determine what happens next.
Carroll said he does not have an estimate for how much it will cost to remove the four poles and place them on the east side of the road.
The CMP spokesman said the utility work is park of a three-year, $3 million project to improve a part of Harpswell's infrastructure that has been known for its unreliability in the past.
The infrastructure upgrade, which is in its second year of work, covers Route 24 from Cundy's Harbor Road to just below Gun Point Cove on Orr's Island, Carroll said.
"It's an area that has had many problems in the past," he said, "and this project will make a big difference."
Carroll said CMP has been pleased that Harpswell is willing to work with them with this project. He noted that the town offered space at the transfer station to store some materials.
Eiane said CMP will try to determine if they can find a solution to the problem, so no meeting between the town and the utility company will be necessary. Otherwise, the two bodies will arrange a meeting to discuss what will work best for both parties.