South Portland capital improvement spending set at $3.6M

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SOUTH PORTLAND — City councilors are expected to vote April 1 on a $3.64 million capital improvement budget.

Defined as capital projects costing more than $10,000, the list includes new weapons for the Police Department, a new dump truck bed for the Wastewater Department, re-engineering traffic islands on Gorham Road near the Maine Mall and exterior painting of the main library branch.

City Manager Jim Gailey noted the plan will not require any borrowing, with $1.2 million coming from existing undesignated fund surpluses and $1.31 million in grants from federal and state sources.

An additional $530,000 in tax increment financing reserve funding, $235,000 in general fund reserves and $236,000 left over from the current capital improvement budget will also be used. 

Gailey’s presentation at a council workshop Monday took about 30 minutes and drew no public comment, but led to about 60 minutes of questions from councilors.

Mayor Tom Blake was disappointed to see some of the needed expenses, but was generally supportive of the budget, including buying an emergency stretcher that hoists patients mechanically as part of a $217,000 ambulance purchase.

“I still see some lifespans in here that disappoint me,” Blake said, adding the existing stretchers “pound for pound were the best investment the city has ever made.”

Public works and transportation projects will consume $2.1 million of spending. Street paving work would be funded with $500,000, the work on Gorham Road would be funded with $300,000, and pedestrian and bicyclist improvements to Main Street would be funded with $305,000.

Continued efforts to separate storm and waste water flowing to the city treatment plants are planned with $300,000 for the first phase of work on Elm Street, off Broadway.

The funding for Gorham Road work will be split between Long Creek tax increment finance zone reserves and a transportation grant. It is an effort to reduce impervious surfaces on the road that can lead to storm water flow contaminating Long Creek.

Combined spending for parks and recreation areas amounts to $357,500, and includes $50,000 for a new pool deck surface at the Community Center, $60,000 for playground improvements at the Redbank Community Center, $75,000 for equipment and work at the city golf course and Wainwright recreational area, and $10,000 for a golf cart and trail groomer for cross country skiing on the Greenbelt and at Wainwright.

Police Chief Ed Googins said $30,000 earmarked for his department would buy about 60 guns. The department would also get new camcorders to replace older ones in police cruisers.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Color Run on course in South Portland

SOUTH PORTLAND — A charitable 5K run for at least 5,000 participants may set a course through Southern Maine Community College on July 7.

After tabling a street closure request earlier this month, councilors Monday showed support for allowing a Color Run on Pickett Street, Fort and Surfsite roads, and Preble and Summit streets.

Organized by a Utah company of the same name, the races draw as many as 15,000 runners who are covered in colored cornstarch as they pass checkpoints. The races are a for-profit venture, but raise money for local charities through a donated portion of entry fees and additional runner sponsorships. The company also pays charities that supply volunteers for the races.

The South Portland race will benefit the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland.

Councilors supported limiting the race field to 5,000 participants, and required an 8 a.m. starting time, with advance notice required for residents near and along the race route.

Race organizers expect the run to be completed by the field in two hours. Organizers will pay to have a city rescue unit, four emergency medical technicians and three police officers staff the race.

Councilors must still vote on the street closures and repeal a city ordinance that prohibits “any exercise or recreation” that disturbs the peace before noon on Sundays.

— David Harry

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.