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Topsham to hold workshop on funding community development projects

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Topsham to hold workshop on funding community development projects

TOPSHAM — Funding of a bicycle and pedestrian trail extension is a major project on the horizon for the town's Community Fund Committee, which will hold a workshop Wednesday, Dec. 4.

The group seeks comments from the public on its proposed 2013 annual report, and recommendations for community development projects to fund. The meeting will be held at the Topsham Municipal Building at 6 p.m.

Last year's report called for the town to continue allocating funding toward the bike and pedestrian trail. The 2013 report proposes more funding, mostly from non-tax sources, according to the town.

Voters at Town Meeting in May authorized $10,000 to go toward the trail, after approving $5,000 the year before. John Shattuck, Topsham's economic and community development director, said Monday he expects another $10,000 will be proposed next year.

The existing trail runs east along Monument Place, from Topsham Fair Mall Road to Main Street. The extension would cost about $800,000, and run from about Town Hall on Main Street, between Gibbs Oil and the Wright-Pierce office, parallel to Route 196, before ending at Community Way.

This phase has been in line to receive funding from the Maine Department of Transportation. DOT would fund 80 percent, or about $640,000, of construction costs, while Topsham would pay the remaining 20 percent, or about $160,000.

Of this amount, $50,000 would come from a combination of community development funds from the 2012-2014 Town Meetings, as well as $25,000 left over from the town's Quality of Life fund, which the Community Fund replaced.

Another $60,000 would come from non-tax funds, such as open space and impact fees and the Whittier Fund bequest, while the remaining $50,000 would be derived from a fundraising effort adjunct to the Community Fund Committee, Shattuck explained.

The Greater Topsham Trail Alliance has been raising funds toward part of Topsham's match, and the town has been seeking grant opportunities to help reach its match, Planning Director Rich Roedner said last year.

"(The trail) will serve a recreational purpose; it will also serve as an alternative form of transportation," Roedner said at the time. "... It makes Topsham a more attractive community for economic development. ... It's a demonstrated fact that communities that have these types of amenities are more attractive to companies that are looking to locate."

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