GORHAM – Gorham’s efforts to display holiday lights in the town’s villages for the first time ever are looking dim.

The town has its lights, but needs permission from Central Maine Power to display them on utility poles. By early this week, no agreement had been reached.

Town officials believe the outlook is bleak to get approval in time for the holidays this year.

David Cole, Gorham’s town manager, said Monday the town is trying to clarify language in an agreement and is continuing talks with Central Maine Power in efforts to work out a deal as the holidays near. “We’re concerned about the time issue,” Cole said.

Cole said permission to use utility poles requires a “tri-party agreement” among the town and Central Maine Power and Fairpoint Communications.

Cole said Gorham experienced some difficulty navigating through layers of utility bureaucracy in seeking its permit. The town has its lawyer, William Dale, involved in negotiations.

John Carroll, a spokesman for Central Maine Power, said Tuesday the licensing agreement is a standard one that it has with other communities. Carroll said Gorham had questions about an insurance provision.

Insurance is just one requirement on the utility’s list for approval. The haggle, according to Carroll, involves a $5 million liability insurance CMP requires.

“I think it’s almost cleared up now,” Carroll said.

Peggy Cummings, a CMP supervisor with the department that deals with pole attachments, did not return requests for comments.

Gorham festivities set for this weekend won’t be impacted and don’t require a CMP permit. Gorham’s tree lighting and the arrival of Santa is part of a program set for 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 25, in Gorham’s Robie Park near the high school.

The Gorham Town Council appropriated $20,000 in this year’s municipal budget to buy and install 25 holiday lighted displays to spruce up the town for the holidays.

Town Councilor Suzanne Phillips said the town bought the lights last month and they are stored at the Public Works Department. The lights were intended to be displayed on utility poles in Gorham’s downtown and Little Falls.

“I think it is a great way to share the holiday spirit throughout the town,” Phillips said.

Once the town signs an agreement, Carroll said, CMP could then inspect the poles where the town wants to display the holiday lights.

“We could turn that around quickly,” Carroll said.

While its public works would help post the lights, Gorham would have to hire an electrical contractor, Cole said.

According to the Central Maine Power website, the town’s contractor would also be required to be insured.

The utility would charge a fee for any electrical connection and for use of electricity.

But, even if granted permission soon, it’s likely too late for public lights to brighten the holidays this year in Gorham.

“Time is marching on and holidays are here,” Cole said.

In fact, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at Gorham’s Robie Park aboard a fire department ladder truck in a light parade at 5 p.m. on Sunday. The parade will roll out at 4 p.m. from the Public Safety Building, 270 Main St., and travel along Main Street to Robie Park, located near the high school and the Gorham Municipal Center.

Shaw Brothers Construction, Moody’s Collision Center, Great Falls Builders, and Gorham town departments will be among the local businesses and organizations that will decorate vehicles and floats with holiday lights.

Gorham Recreation Department sponsors the tree lighting in family festivities that include activities like reindeer games. Hot chocolate will warm those attending. Kids will have an opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Recreation Department in the Municipal Center following the tree lighting.

Those attending the festivities are encouraged to take non-perishable foods for the Gorham Food Pantry.

Free parking is available at Gorham High School, 41 Morrill Ave., and the Gorham Municipal Center, 75 South St.

With Thanksgiving comes the start – officially or unofficially –  of the holiday season. To get ready, Westbrook Public Services sent a two-man crew out Monday to hang decorations from the city’s light poles. Here, after wrapping a string of colored lights around a pole, Brandon Brewer hangs a holiday banner.    

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