The bridge closure will force Castle Hill Road, Shafter Street, and Fairview Avenue residents, as well as Pyrofax Propane trucks, MOOver buses, and Fairview boat launch traffic to use Boyd Hill Road for up to three weeks.
Town manager Scott Murphy told board members that news regarding repairs to the Beaver Brook Bridge on South Main Street “exploded” Wednesday afternoon. Murphy said that paving crews that were milling (a process to remove a layer of pavement) the blacktop on South Main Street discovered damage under the pavement on the bridge. “You might have seen them jackhammering the last couple of days,” Murphy said. “Well, what they’re finding isn’t great, 80% of the depth is bad, and they found a couple of holes.”
Murphy said the overall structure of the bridge, however, was surprisingly sound. “The underside of the bridge is in good shape, and when the repairs are finished, it should give us another 25 or 30 years.”
Murphy told board members there were two main issues to consider: cost and time. “They’ve given me a verbal estimate of $80,000 to $90,000,” Murphy said. “We’ve got $29,000 in the bridge replacement capital fund.”
Murphy said he called the state regarding a state structures grant, but was initially told that the money had been expended for this year. “But then they called back later. Their funding is on a two-year cycle, so they can give us a grant this year from next year’s allocation. Next year, that amount will be taken out of any (structures grant) we would receive. So I’m going to get a grant application out Monday. They’ve given me a good feeling that we might be successful.”
With the grant, there would still be $20,000 in unmet expenses, Murphy told board members. “We’ll have to overrun the highway fund, and see how it works at the end of the year,” he said.
Board member Diane Chapman asked if repairs could move ahead before the funding is in the town’s hands. “I’ve given them the green light,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the construction company has said the work would take two to three weeks. But, noting that three weeks of repairs would mean the bridge would remain closed through Labor Day – when the Fairview boat landing and picnic area will be busy. “We’re going to lean hard on them to do it in two weeks,” Murphy said.
“I don’t see that we have any choice,” said board member Meg Streeter. “We don’t want to push them so hard they don’t do their best job.”
Murphy said the bridge would be closed on Monday, August 20. “They’re bringing in two crews and they’ll start jackhammering like mad starting Monday,” Murphy said. “They brought in one crew of four people and only got a little done this week.”
Murphy said the only alternative was to repair half of the bridge at a time, leaving the other half open to traffic. “But that would drive up cost, take more time, and it’s still not going to let the MOOver or people with boats go through.”
Board members agreed. “You’re going to need to be strong,” Murphy warned board members. “You’re going to hear complaints.”
“When it rains, it pours,” said board member Tom Consolino. “Although I hate to use that expression.”
In other discussions, the board met with fire department members and Bob Rubin of Haystack Club to discuss the development’s funding for fire apparatus, negotiated under a previous Haystack owner in 2005. Murphy said Haystack has proposed the town sign and Haystack sign a memo extending the agreement. “The only thing they want to change is the payment structure,” Murphy said.
But Wilmington Fire Chief Ken March said his department recommends renegotiating the agreement. Under the previous agreement, he said, the town would be obligated to buy a “quint,” a fire truck that combines the capabilities of a ladder truck with the capabilities of a pumper. March indicated that he believes a quint isn’t the appropriate apparatus for the need that will be created by the construction of a proposed hotel at Haystack.
“A quint is a very specialized piece of equipment,” March said. “It has been proven that it cannot be used effectively for both (aerial firefighting, and as a pumper).”
March explained that the quint would need two trained crews – one to run it as a regular fire engine, and another to run it when it is being used for aerial firefighting. Additionally, March said, attempting to use the equipment in both modes at the same time was ineffective. He said aerial apparatus must be able to move when necessary, but if the truck is being used as a pumper, multiple hose attachments prevent the truck from moving. “The whole agreement needs to be revisited.”
Additionally, March pointed out that there is no place to put aerial firefighting equipment in Wilmington. “We really need to look at the whole picture and think about this as we move forward with a public safety facility, or whatever we buy will not fit in the building we have.”
Rubin, who said construction of a four- or five- story hotel at Haystack is slated for 2015 or 2016, said he would be happy to revisit the agreement. “From our point of view, we don’t care what kind of truck our contribution goes to,” he said. “When the agreement was negotiated, it was the fire department that was talking about the quint.”
But Rubin requested that the town sign a letter stating that the town and Haystack were renegotiating the deal, so that the issue of fire apparatus wouldn’t become a problem during their Act 250 hearings.
In other matters, local artist Lee Rich offered to donate prints of his work depicting various Wilmington scenes to decorate the recently renovated Town Hall. Rich told board members that Carolyn Palmer, of Roseate Creations, has also agreed to donate frames for the prints. “This is something I started talking about the day before Tropical Storm Irene,” Rich said. “I haven’t forgotten.”
Board members picked out several prints, and decided to let town office staff members weigh in on the rest.