Volunteer and member of the Friends of the Mattapoisett Bike PathRobin Lepore came before the Mattapoisett Finance Committee on September 26 at the request of Town Administrator Michael Gagne to give a presentation outlining the very large public works project planned for Industrial Drive off North Street.
While Lepore, assisted by Bonne DeSousa, and Highway Surveyor Barry Denham have worked collectively for more than a year on finding grant opportunities to fund Phase 2 of the bike path, the volunteers have also found economic grants and public works grants in the process.
All those funding sources need to be bundled together, explained Gagne, as the town seeks to make roadway and infrastructure improvements to Industrial Drive, the artery that feeds the town’s light industrial zone.
Lepore said that during the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 Town Meetings, voters had approved funding the Industrial Drive’s design and engineering studies that brought the project up to 15 percent design completion. She said that a grant was applied for in the amount of $1.87 million that would partially pay for the multi-pronged project. The timeline for this project, she said, includes having final designs and permitting completed by early 2020 with an anticipated construction start date in late 2020 or early 2021.
The private sewer project currently taking place at the business park will allow businesses to tie-in to the public sewer system, thereby freeing up much needed land for future growth in the business district. The full scope of the project as outlined includes sewer, utilities, bike path, and roadway construction. Gagne said that the roadway redevelopment would also fix historic drainage issues along the roadway.
Lepore said the bike path would unite Phase 1b, which is currently under construction, with Phase 2, which is yet to be fully designed. Phase 2 will eventually link to the path still underway in Marion. Bike path proponents, Lepore said, were planning for the day when a recreational path will extend from Providence, Rhode Island all the way to Provincetown.
In the meantime, Lepore pointed out that roadway and infrastructure improvements in the business park will generate new business for the town in the form of tourist dollars and new businesses offering employment at the business park.
The price tag includes the town bonding $1.665M, transferring $500,000 from free cash, and anticipation of grants totaling approximately $2.585M.
Timing was an issue, Lepore pointed out, saying that it made fiscal sense to do all the work at one time to keep costs in line versus doing a project of this size piecemeal.
Lepore suggested bringing this project to the voters during the Fall Special Town Meeting in October.
Gagne emphasized that the cost of the project would not all be funded by town money. He said that economic opportunity grants are available and that conversations with federal grant representatives have been favorable towards Mattapoisett’s plan. He also said that members from the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) have been assisting the town through the economic development strategy process.
Finance Committee member Colby Rottler got to the meat of things when he asked how much a warrant article would be asking the voters to fund. Gagne said $3 million, but not all that would be at once; rather, it would be bonded over time as retiring debt freed up borrowing. Gagne maintained that grants would offset the bond, saying, “We have to spend the money first, then the town gets reimbursed.”
Also during the meeting, Denham gave the FinCom details related to bridge construction necessary at an Acushnet Road location. A bridge situated some 800 feet south of Hereford Road is in immediate need of repair.
Denham said the original bridge was built in 1933 for $250, promoting Gagne to quip, “Well that didn’t work out bad, then – it lasted 95 years.” That gave everyone in the room a bit of comic relief. But the seriousness of the situation was present as Denham handed out a Massachusetts Department of Transportation field report from May 2017 that indicated the bridge was in poor condition with the additional narrative, “…advanced section loss, deterioration, spalling or scour…”
Denham said the town’s portion of the project would cost $1.2 million and be funded with a $500,000 grant and $460,000 in future Chapter 90 funds from 2020 and 2021 that would be earmarked to complete the bridge. The balance, Denham said, would come from other sources within the town’s budget.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Finance Committee was not yet scheduled as of press time.
Mattapoisett Finance Committee
By Marilou Newell