Broderick: Goal 'is zero money' spent on subdivision
By Terry Duffy
Construction work, including final preparations toward paving, is now moving ahead at the French Landing subdivision off Lower River Road in northern Lewiston.
The project, which has experienced delays over past months, cleared a hurdle at the June 27 Lewiston Town Board regular meeting, where the board unanimously approved the establishment of Town of Lewiston Drainage District No. 1.
Precedent-setting, the measure calls for the construction of drainage infrastructure within the private development at the French Landing subdivision at no cost whatsoever for the town. Initial construction costs would be borne by Jerry Wolfgang, the developer, with perpetual maintenance costs expected to be borne by the developer and/or future residents of the subdivision via tax levy, according to the approved agreement.
"The goal is that the town spends no money whatsoever," said Supervisor Steve Broderick, who pointed out that, for the town, the approval marks a completely new approach in how Lewiston handles its subdivisions.
"With Riverwalk it's a different issue," Broderick said. "This is a 12-year issue, which this board inherited and wants to resolve."
For attending residents of the French Landing public hearing held earlier that evening, particularly those associated with the Lewiston Taxpayers Accountability and Action Alliance, board assurances appeared hollow - at least to an extent.
Paulette Glasgow of The Circle Drive, who is also an Alliance member, queried the board as to any present and/or future spending at French Landing. She also inquired on any future spending on drainage and potential long-range spending on areas beyond drainage and maintenance.
Alliance member Ellen Correa of Riverwalk Drive, likewise, had questions on maintenance and raised issue with potential liability to the town with regard to unforeseen accidents. "Since the town would be responsible for the drainage district, we may also be liable if anyone is hurt or drowned in the large retaining pond," she said.
Lower River Road-French Landing neighbor Nancy Correa had questions as to installation and maintenance of other fixtures at the subdivision (i.e. street lighting and sidewalks). She asked the board whether the town or a homeowners association would be bearing those costs now and down the road.
Those were questions that also drew the interest of Councilman Bill Geiben, who requested Town Attorney Brian Seaman explain further.
Seaman said a homeowners association would be tasked to maintain the drainage system, with funding to be collected by the town via a tax levy from either the developer and/or property owners and maintained toward future expenses. "The town ... would collect a tax and put it in a reserve fund," he said.
With regard to lighting or other improvements, "A special lighting or homeowners association would need to be established," Seaman said.
As to concerns of any public money being expended in this area, he said, "Since this public money will be collected as a tax, the special district itself will be a public entity. It will be public money, but public money that is collected only from the homeowners who live in the district."
Regarding any town liabilities, Seaman admitted it was a possibility.
"If the town is involved and is negligent, there is always a possibility someone could put a suit against the town," he said. "(But) the town would not own the property."
"The goal is zero money" spent by the town, Broderick said.
In other news
•Town Parks/Recreation Director Mike Dashineau informed the board he received three bids for removal of deceased ash trees at Kiwanis Park, with the lowest being a $6,480 proposal from Angry Beaver Tree Service.
Following some discussion with regard to future needs to handle other ash bore problem areas in the town, the board agreed Kiwanis Park was a safety problem at this point and voted to allow Angry Beaver to remove trees.
Funding will come from the Recreation Department account. Monetary needs to address other dead and deceased ash trees would likely involve Lewiston seeking future grant funding by town grant writer Bernie Rotella, once a complete inventory of town needs was completed.
•Lewiston Police Chief Frank Previte reported that, with the warmer weather, activity has likewise been picking up for the LPD. For the period of May 24 to June 24, Previte said LPD officers issued 194 traffic tickets, handled 29 accidents, processed 27 arrests and answered 971 calls for service.
•The Town Board will hold a public hearing on a site plan, approved by the Lewiston Environmental Commission, for an aboveground fuel storage tank on the property of Mount St. Mary's Hospital. The hearing will take place at 6 p.m. Monday, July 11, prior to the Town Board work session.