November 27, 2012

Yarmouth's needs upset a neighborhood

Residents question aspects of a voter-approved expansion of the public works garage.

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

YARMOUTH – Neighbors of a busy public works garage and bus parking facility on North Road are unhappy with the $2.88 million expansion plan approved by the town's voters Nov. 6.

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Amy Williams, a neighbor of the public works garage, questions the wisdom of spending $375,000 to acquire an adjacent house to create 11 parking spots.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

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A 6,000-square-foot addition to Yarmouth’s public works facility, approved by voters, will include a wash bay and one new slot for vehicle maintenance, according to Erik Street, the town’s director of public works.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

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By a vote of 2,806 to 2,536, voters authorized borrowing to give the town what officials said is badly needed capacity. The facility's doors now are too small for some fire trucks, and bus drivers have difficulty making the tight turn into maintenance bays.

The 6,000-square-foot addition will add a wash bay and one new slot for vehicle maintenance, said Erik Street, Yarmouth's director of public works. Workers at the maintenance facility are responsible for upkeep of the town's fleet of about 100 vehicles.

"The need has been there for some time," Street said. "We've just outgrown it."

The garage, which dates to the 1960s and 1970s, is also crumbling. The addition would be the first of multiple phases to rebuild the entire structure.

But residents who live next to the property said they aren't satisfied with the expansion or the fact that the plan includes buying a home next door for $375,000.

"This acquisition doesn't seem that well thought out," said Elizabeth Hope, 40, of Rogers Road. "It doesn't make much sense to add on to something that's falling apart. We need to be judicious about tax dollars."

Plans call for a sliver of the purchased home's land to be paved for parking. The fate of the home itself is uncertain.

"The thing we most object to is how they slid this purchase of the property next door without any real plan" for using it, said Jeffrey Webster, 61, who has lived on Rogers Road for 31 years.

Plans to move a fueling station against a rear property line have angered Elise Hodgkin of Greenleaf Street. There will be so little space between the property line and the tanks that Hodgkin said a buffer of trees must be planted on her property.

"They are just doing whatever they want to do," said Hodgkin, who can see the facility from most of the rear-facing windows in her home. "These are things that they want. I don't think these are things that they need."

Nestled between a residential neighborhood and a playground and playing fields, the facility's location and layout are not ideal for the 14 buses and many plow trucks and pickups, said Town Manager Nat Tupper.

He said the home purchase was the least onerous solution, compared with moving the garage or splitting up its services among other facilities.

Another abutter, Amy Williams of Rogers Road, criticized the decision to buy the house, saying "$375,000 for 11 parking spots is a little ridiculous."

Neighbors said they want a deeper vegetation buffer and assurances they will be included as the process moves forward.

Tupper said he plans one-on-one meetings with residents in the coming weeks, after the town hires an architect.

As for what could become of the home next door, Tupper said, "It's a question that the (town) council hasn't answered."

Yarmouth voters approved a separate $1.5 million proposal to replace a turf playing field, bringing this year's borrowing total to $4.8 million.

 

Staff Writer Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

mbyrne@mainetoday.com

 

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