AUGUSTA — A family that sued the city last week would be allowed to continue driving across a public works site to get to their Boothby Street home under a proposed agreement discussed Wednesday by lawyers for the city and homeowners.

The proposal, subject to approval by city councilors, would allow the Poulin family to reach their home by crossing the public works property off North Street, but only during the day, when the facility is open, if they let public works officials know they’re coming ahead of time.

The agreement was proposed after a judicial settlement conference Wednesday before Superior Court Chief Justice Roland Cole. Jennifer Bryant, a lawyer representing Monique and Robert Poulin and Monique Poulin’s mother, Lorraine Piteau; and city attorney Stephen Langsdorf took part.

The Boothby Street residents, who say their family has driven across the city property to get to their home for 70 years, sued the city of Augusta to prevent it from blocking their access across the site. The suit alleges that if the city goes through with blocking access to their driveway this month, it will jeopardize their safety by cutting off the only access they have other than a steep flight of 100 stairs from Boothby Street. Two of the homes’ three residents have disabilities and mobility problems.

Langsdorf said Wednesday that the city won’t block the access route, at least until city councilors consider whether to approve the agreement at their meeting on Dec. 6.

Bryant said the Poulin family is “cautiously optimistic of this new agreement and hope that it’s a step toward a long-term solution.”

But she said that if councilors don’t approve the agreement, or the city and family can’t reach a longer-term agreement allowing them access, the lawsuit will proceed.

Langsdorf said the agreement attempts to balance the needs of the family with the need for safety and security at the public works site, used by large dump trucks and other pieces of heavy equipment.

“City councilors are very concerned about safety and security on that site,” Langsdorf said. “They see this as a dangerous situation. When you turn (inside the public works site, to access the Poulin’s driveway across it) the salt and sand building is right there. You drive right through the yard, and that’s where trucks are loading salt and sand. You’ve got 15 different dump trucks.

“It’s really not an area where you’d normally want anyone from the public,” he added. “I think this strikes a balance that can protect the city’s interests and be empathetic to the Poulins’ plight, which is a plight we’re seeing with many people, of having mobility issues.”

Langsdorf said the Poulins providing advance notice before crossing the public works site would allow officials to notify workers in advance.

He said as part of the agreement, the Poulins also would sign a waiver of liability, agreeing they would not sue the city if something happens to them while crossing the property.

Bryant said the city, under the proposed agreement, also would work with the family to help them find options to repair and upgrade the stairs to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Improvements, such as having a chair lift installed, would make the stairs more accessible for the homeowners.

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: kedwardskj