WESTBROOK — The City Council Monday gave unanimous preliminary approval to Sappi North America Inc.’s revised plan for storing construction equipment as it prepares to remove the dams in the Presumpscot River.
The new plan will use less of Saccarappa Park as a staging area, allowing it to still be used for recreation. It also will allow for continued full use of the boardwalk.
Previously, Sappi requested use of nearly all of the city-owned park. Instead, Sappi now is asking to use less than a third of it. It will still donate $3,500 to Westbrook Arts & Culture for a downtown fountain as it originally proposed.
The plan was approved by all City Council members with Ward 3’s Anna Turcotte and Councilor-at-large Ann Peoples absent from Monday’s meeting.
“The major thing that will need to be on the park is the crane,” City Administrator Jerre Bryant said. “The crane would be on an easement about 60 feet along the western border of the park, where it will be able to do work in the channel and on the island.”
The rest of the construction equipment will be stored on Sappi-owned land, about 100 feet down from the park but still on the river, near the old power plant.
Sappi has until May 2021 to remove the dams and install fish passages. The company plans to begin moving equipment to the park June 18.
“Once completed, this removal and fish passage will restore a full one-fifth of the river to its original pre-colonial condition and allow for an abundance of anadromous fish spawning habitat,” Friends of the Presumpscot River and the Conservation Law Foundation said in joint press release.
Also on Monday, councilors gave preliminary approval for the paving of a portion of Stroudwater Street.
Officials initially were looking into paving the entire street, but found that project to be about $300,000 over budget.
“This is a city and state project where the state covers half of the budgeted cost, but we pay all of the overage,” Bryant said.
The bid, if given final approval, would go to Shaw Brothers of Gorham for $388,375.50, and would improve curbs as well as mill and fill the road from Forest Street to William Clarke Drive.
Ward 2 City Councillor Victor Chau asked about measures to slow down traffic, which he sees as an issue on Stroudwater.
“People tend to drive very fast on that road,” Chau said. “I was just wondering if the plan had any sort of measures to control speed.”
The plan calls for a width reduction on Stroudwater of about 2 feet, which officials believe will help mitigate speeding.
“We reduced the width to save costs as well, not just shortening the scope of the project,” Director of Public Services Eric Dudley said.
“The goal is to have the base pavement down in August,” Dudley said.
The City Council also accepted a $15,000 donation from Idexx to expand the Gateway to Opportunity program for a summer partnership with the Westbrook Community Center.
“This program will allow us to hire four to six members between ages 16 and 18,” Westbrook Community Center Children’s Program Coordinator Anthony Dahms said.
The team will work on a project that tells a story about the community center, while simultaneously building career experience.
“We will also be visiting Idexx so they can see the environment and sort of job shadow and learn more,” Dahms said. “It’s a great opportunity, and we thank Idexx.”
Chance Viles can be reached at 780-9092 or [email protected] Follow Chance on Twitter: @chanceviles.
Saccarappa Falls in Westbrook