Farmington continues with Front Street contractor despite concerns

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by Rachel Ohm Morning Sentinel

FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday authorized a Fairfield contractor to proceed with the second phase of a reconstruction project on Front Street, despite concern over delays and lack of communication on the first phase.

The board voted 3-2 to award the second phase of the project to Ranger Contracting, with selectmen Josh Bell and Matthew Smith voting against Ranger.

“I know it’s taken longer than we would like and I’m sure longer than you would like,” said Bill Sanborn, owner of Ranger Contracting, of the Front Street project. “There were significant delays out of our control.”

Phase two includes reconstruction of Front Street from Depot Street to Narrow Gauge Square, a sidewalk on the east side of Depot Street and retaining walls near 247 and 249 Front St., if needed. The cost of the project is budgeted at $242,719.

Sanborn said phase one, which started last summer but is not complete, was delayed by wet weather, tree removal and delays in getting landowner permissions.

Earlier this month, the board voted to increase the height of the retaining wall that runs from lower Broadway to near the Thai Smile & Sushi Restaurant at 168 Front St.

The change will add about $8,000 to phase one and will be included in a change-work order authorizing Ranger to complete the first phase and proceed with the second.

Town Manager Richard Davis said the Front Street project is “one of the most difficult and complicated” the town has done in years.

“But sometimes that happens when you work in town,” Davis said, adding that Ranger should not be blamed for the delays.

Selectman Michael Fogg also said while he had heard concerns about communication and the project’s timeline, he had not heard concerns about the quality of the work.

“I have no evidence to say anything bad about Ranger and the quality of their work,” Fogg said. “I would be very comfortable staying with them.”

In other news, the board approved a five-year priority schedule for road rehabilitation and maintenance, and authorized the town manger to work with Franklin County commissioners to alleviate parking concerns downtown.

Davis said the concerns have arisen from the need for more parking after the move of the Origins manufacturing company, which produces Brazilian jiu-jitsu gear, to Farmington in August 2017 to expand to a larger factory space.

The five-year priority schedule for road rehabilitation and maintenance includes phase two of the Front Street improvement project, as well as improvements to Ski Slope Road and Webster Road and overlays in 2019.

Other projects scheduled for the next five years are:

2020: Reconstruction of Perham Street from High Street to the New Hope Baptist Church. The town will pay a 50 percent share of the Maine Department of Transportation Municipal Partnership Initiative, or $265,000; Lake Avenue and Stewart Avenue reconstruction, for around $190,000; and Osborn Road paving or chip sealing for $50,000.

2021: High Street phase one — reconstruction from Perham Street to South Street, $300,000; Titcomb Hill overlay, $70,000; Clover Mills Road, $60,000.

2022: High Street phase two — South Street to U.S. Route 2 reconstruction, $300,000; Mosher Hill phase one — full-depth reconstruction, $129,000.

2023: Mosher Hill phase two — full-depth reconstruction, $129,000; Bailey Hill reconstruction, $250,000.

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