Yarmouth council resolve supports pathway extention

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YARMOUTH — With the 18th anniversary of Beth Condon’s death approaching, the Town Council passed a resolution that supports financing design work necessary to construct the final phase of a memorial pathway.

The non-binding resolution, accepted 5-2 on Aug. 18, favors construction of the pathway over the East Main Street Bridge, and offers to pay $20,000 more than the state requires for engineering and design work, but does not pledge the $100,000 – a 20 percent match – suggested in a Maine Department of Transportation Quality Community Program grant application.

The town submitted the grant application to MDOT in 2010 to help fund construction of the pathway along Route 1 between the Hannaford Plaza and the East Main Street ramp. Since the project is estimated to cost about $500,000, the state agreed to fund 80 percent while the town would be responsible for 20 percent. 

The 1.6-mile pathway was established along Route 1 in 2006 and named for Condon, who died when she was hit by a vehicle while walking on the shoulder. The path extends from Portland Street to near Interstate 295 Exit 17, except for a middle section that hasn’t been built.

Carl Condon, Beth’s father, urged councilors to help fund the project at the Aug. 18 council meeting. He said Beth was the fourth person in 15 years to be killed along Route 1. Since the first two phases of the pathway have been built, he said, “not one more person has lost their life on Route 1 in Yarmouth.”

While every councilor supported the need for safe access along Route 1 for pedestrians and bicyclists, not all agreed that the pathway should be built under the East Main Street bridge on Route 1.

Council Chairman Steve Woods drafted the resolution to indicate a preference to construct the pathway over the bridge. But the resolution states that if it is not financially or physically feasible for the pathway to take that route, then it should be constructed under the bridge, as originally proposed.

The resolution also increases the amount of engineering, design and bid specifications from a 20 percent match of $5,000 to up to $25,000 to help fund the preferred “over-the-bridge option,” since cost estimates and funding eligibility has not yet been discussed with the state.

But Councilors Carl Winslow and Erv Bickford said they would not support the pathway if it were built under the bridge and Councilor Tim Sanders said he could not support spending $500,000 on a pathway at a time when spending needs to be more conservative.

Winslow offered an amendment to the resolution that removed language pledging up to $100,000 plus any private donations collected to be used for the construction of the pathway extension.

“I am opposed to committing this council (to spending) $100,000 because I am not sure I am willing to spend $100,000 to go under the bridge,” Winslow said.

The amendment ultimately passed 4-3 without the support of Councilors Leslie Hyde, Randy Bates and Woods.

The final motion to approve the resolution without the $100,000 pledge for construction passed 5-2 with Woods and Hyde opposed.

Town Manager Nat Tupper said town staff will give MDOT instructions to go forward with design work for an “over-the-top” option. There is funding to support the work, he said, and design plans for a pathway above or below the East Main Street bridge will come back to the council for final consideration.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.