CAPE ELIZABETH — After months of trying to quell rumors on the expected cost of a proposed Shore Road pedestrian path, the pathway committee will get an actual cost estimate at its meeting Wednesday, Feb. 25.
The estimate, which is based on the concept plan approved at the committee’s Feb. 4 meeting, will be presented by engineers hired as part of the pathway feasibility study.
Cost rumors have floated around town for months, prompting some residents to question whether the committee should be at work during hard fiscal times.
The committee, meanwhile, has stood by its Town Council charge of studying the feasibility of a pathway along Shore Road to connect Fort Williams foot and bike traffic to the Town Center.
Members have been open about the $35,000 cost attached to that study: $28,000 was provided through grants from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation Committee, and $7,000 came from the town. Those monies include funding of the concept plan, designed by landscape architecture firm Mitchell & Associates and the town engineering firm, Oest Associates.
The committee has not yet, however, had any discussion around the estimated construction cost of the project.
With the town looking to shave $500,000 from next year’s budget, numbers ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars into the multi-millions have been part of the speculation.
But those figures, according to Town Planner Maureen O’Meara, “are just astounding.”
Rather than give out estimates to further fuel rumors, O’Meara said she has simply been telling citizens to wait until Feb. 25 to talk about project costs.
“These decisions are hard enough to make when you have the facts,” O’Meara said. “There’s some crazy stuff out there, and people will figure out how crazy” those numbers are once engineers present their cost estimates at the Feb. 25 meeting, she said. That meeting is open to the public, and will begin at 7 p.m. in the Jordan Conference Room in Town Hall.
Regardless of cost estimates, the town is not expected to authorize construction any time soon.
At the committee’s Feb. 4 meeting, committee member and Councilor David Backer said that when the committee presents its final report to the council later this spring, the council will likely thank the committee and file the report until funding is available.
The Town Council must hold a public hearing and give the project an official go-ahead before any fundraising or construction can begin.