HARPSWELL — The Board of Selectman has allocated $4,500 to study whether newly discovered deterioration of the Mitchell Field water tower needs urgent attention.

During its Jan. 26 meeting, from which Selectman Kevin Johnson was absent due to a planned vacation, the board also scheduled several public hearings in advance of Town Meeting on March 10.

Findings from an ongoing study of the water tower will influence how and when the town moves forward with action on the old U.S. Navy holdover.

“One of the findings is that the foundations are very questionable,” Selectman Elinor Multer said. “There is some obvious deterioration, at least in the areas under the legs of the tower.”

According to Multer, consultants from Woodard & Curran recommend having a structural engineer determine the urgency of the problem.

Multer said the engineer would find out whether the tower is safe for another three to five years, or if the deterioration poses “an almost immediate hazard.”

“There are various reasons on the horizon for why we would keep it that long to determine positively whether we have an ongoing use for it,” she said.

Last spring, a Task Force was formed to decide whether the town ought to demolish the structure, or re-purpose it as a telecommunications tower. The group will also determine if the 100,000-gallon tank is still serviceable and should be reintegrated into the water system.

Public hearings

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, selectmen will hold a hearing on whether the town should place a moratorium on retail marijuana sales. The same night, the board will also hear updates on amendments to the town’s Harbor and Waterfront and Marine Resources ordinances.

The following Thursday, Feb. 16, also at 6:30 p.m., selectmen will hold a hearing on whether to conduct a secret-ballot vote on whether to continue a relationship with Curtis Memorial Library.

Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said while the Feb. 9 hearings are not required, they will provide a valuable opportunity for input by residents before the warrant articles for Town Meeting are finalized. By law, warrant articles must be posted seven days prior to the meeting.

However, Eiane said the town and selectmen will have language for the articles by the Feb. 21 printing deadline for the annual report, which will include the warrant.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or at [email protected]. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

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