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Cumberland council mulls borrowing to upgrade senior housing

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Cumberland council mulls borrowing to upgrade senior housing

CUMBERLAND — The Town Council is considering a 20-year bond of $600,000 to pay for senior housing heating systems and roofs.

The new systems, which would replace those in 30 units at the town-owned Hawthorne Court off Tuttle Road, are long overdue, Town Manager Bill Shane said Monday.

The existing systems are original to the units and are more than 20 years old, Shane said. They have been scheduled for replacement, but the town has been holding off until natural gas is available this year.

The approximately $340,000 heating project will occur this fall. The roofs of the complex's nine buildings will also be replaced over the next two to three years, at a cost of about $260,000.

An independent roof consultant conducted an audit of the roofs about four years ago, and determined they had about three to five years of life left, Shane said.

The Town Council, which was scheduled to hold a public hearing Monday on the spending, unanimously tabled the issue to an unspecified date.

The Cumberland Housing Authority had asked the council to authorize the borrowing, according to Councilor Bill Stiles.

"Since then, we've come up with a few more ideas ... that will possibly save us some money," Stiles said.

The Housing Authority is considering retiring part of its existing debt early so that it can obtain lower interest rates and have greater budgeting flexibility in the future.

Contract zone

The Town Council on Monday also set a public hearing date of Sept. 8 concerning a Nov. 4 referendum to repeal the panel's recent decision on a Harris Road contract zone agreement.

Councilors on July 14 unanimously approved the agreement with developer Justin Fletcher, who plans to split his lot at 3 Longwoods Road (Route 9) in exchange for deeding the town an acre of land for an approximately 500-foot connection of Harris Road to Route 9.

The pact would allow Fletcher to have one duplex and one house on the land. Density standards previously allowed one single-family home or one duplex on the property.

An existing private connection is used by people who have purchased an easement. If the town takes possession, that connection will be upgraded to town subdivision standards.

The Planning Board unanimously recommended passage in June.

No work on the road is planned until at least next summer, Shane has said.

The repeal petition required 599 certified signatures, or 10 percent of the number of registered town voters, and were due back to the town 30 days after the council's decision.

The town stopped counting signatures after certifying 614 of them, according to Town Clerk Tammy O'Donnell.

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