OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Voters in Old Orchard Beach overwhelmingly approved local referendum questions in the July 14 election. They approved spending $1 million in local funds to improve infrastructure on two roads, and also approved all four questions of the RSU 23 education budget validation referendum, according to unofficial election results provided by the town.

With 1,659, yes votes, 307 no votes and 20 blank, residents authorized and appropriated using up to $1 million in local funds and appropriated $1 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to make improvements on Fern Avenue and West Old Orchard Avenue.

Voters also approved four questions related to the RSU 23 education budget. They voted 1,574 to 397 in favor of appropriating $14.9 million and raising locally $12.9 million for the 2020-2021 school budget; 1,391 to 463 in favor of appropriating $567,423 and raising $136,555 for adult education; 1,484 to 366 in favor of transferring funds from unallocated balances in excess of the 3 percent state guidelines to the contingency fund to be used in emergencies; and 1,590 to 253 in favor of transferring $201,827 from available balances to the Capital Reserve Fund, and to use $60,000 for roof repair and siding replacement and use the remainder plus existing Capital Reserve Funds for facilities maintenance or emergencies.

With the approval of the infrastructure bond, funds will be used to replace water, sewer and storm water infrastructure on Fern and West Old Orchard avenues.

“What this work involves is a complete overhaul of public infrastructure in the effected area, and it’s badly needed,” Town Manager Larry Mead said at a Town Council meeting last month. “Some of the oldest sewer pipes we have in the town of Old Orchard Beach are in this neighborhood.”
In addition to updating the current sewer lines with PVC piping, “we would also be installing storm drains and catch basins in the affected area,” Mead said. “We’d be putting curbing in along the roadway to assist with the funneling of storm water. Currently, there is little to no storm drain infrastructure in this area.”
Sidewalks would also be replaced on one side of the each street, he said, noting “in some cases there’s trees in them or utility poles.”
As proposed, Mead said the roads would be made one-way and the lanes would be widened. The Town Council will vote on whether to make the roads one way after the project is completed, he said. That portion of the plan may face opposition as it has already during the numerous meetings where the project has been discussed.
No starting date for the project has been set, Mead said in a July 15 email.
“There is not a specific timeline as of yet,” he said. “The Town intends to be flexible regarding start date in order to get favorable pricing from contractors. With that being said the project could begin as early as the last quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021.”
In addition to the local and federal funds, Maine Water plans to spend $300,000 to $400,000 to replace 100-year-old water main pipelines and hydrants from the right-of-way to the point of residents’ connections, Mead said.
In the primaries, Democrat Sara Gideon defeated two opponents and will face off against incumbent U.S. Sen Susan Collins in November; and Democrat and incumbent District 1 U.S. Rep Chellie Pingree, will run against challenger Jay Allen, both were unopposed. Incumbent Democrat State Sen. Justin Chenette will run against Republic William Gombar for the Senate District 31 seat, neither had a challenger. Incumbent State Rep. Lori Gromlich, a Democrat, will face Republican challenger Sharri MacDonald, for the House District 13 position, both were unopposed. Democrat Scott Houde will have no Republican challenger for the York County judge of Probate position in the November election. Republican incumbent Carol Lovejoy will have no opposition from a Democrat in her bid for to keep her position as York County register of Probate.

Comments are not available on this story.