A bond was approved in November 2014 for $990,000 to repair Saco’s Stackpole Bridge. The lowest bidder was Chesterfield Associates ($839,500); CPM was the fourth highest bidder ($1.19 million). The City Council awarded the contract to the latter, the preferred contractor of Friends of Stackpole Bridge.

Central to the project was restoration to the bridge’s historic significance. Subsequent to the award and several design modifications, it was determined that an additional $370,000 was required to fix the bridge. These funds were approved by the council last Dec. 21.

Since last fall, changes have been made to the design. Progress reports were not offered until a Saco resident publicly requested an update in May. In June, the request for information was pursued.

Mayor Roland Michaud acknowledged the city received a letter from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission stating that the bridge wouldn’t be recognized for its historic significance. The process leading up to this disclosure has not been made transparent by the city.

Despite the design changes, not to mention the costs associated, the selected contractor cannot deliver on the principal objective: to reconstruct the historic structure.

Where is the oversight? Was the historic goal realistic in light of the funds approved at referendum? Should the low bidder have been passed over or given an opportunity to submit alternatives with the additional funds afforded the current bidder?

Was allocating additional sums in keeping with the referendum’s intent? Has the city been placed in a position of losing state funding? Who authorized the various project changes?

What role has Friends of Stackpole Bridge played in the process? What legal advice has been sought or given? Where is the Saco City Council leadership?

Again, where is the oversight?

As concerned citizens, we believe that our local government needs to be more transparent and attentive to the management of the public coffers.

John Harkins

chairperson, Saco Citizens for Sensible Government

Saco