Madawaska selectmen consider multiple requests, approve angled parking on 10th Avenue
MADAWASKA, Maine — The Select Board backed the request of former town manager Ryan Pelletier on Tuesday for a formal agreement between the St. Agatha and Madawaska fire departments concerning Pelletier Island. Selectmen also heard concerns from the Madawaska fire chief regarding truck and equipment needs and approved the reconfiguration of parking on 10th Avenue.
Ryan Pelletier, who is now the Aroostook County administrator, appeared in front of the board to make a request to have the Madawaska Fire Department automatically respond to fires on Pelletier Island, which is in St. Agatha.
Pelletier made it clear that he was attending as a resident of Pelletier Island and not as a representative of County government or the town of St. Agatha.
Pelletier, who built a home on the island four years ago, was informed by his insurance company this year that his rates would be going up because of the distance of his residence to the responding fire station in St. Agatha.
Pelletier Island is part of St. Agatha, but the causeway leading to the island starts in Madawaska.
While the St. Agatha Fire Department is responsible for responding to that territory, Madawaska Fire Station 2, located on the corner of Beaulieu Road and Lavertu Road, is closer to the island. Pelletier indicated that an agreement with Madawaska would help property owners with their insurance costs.
Madawaska Fire Chief Jim Soucy made it clear at Tuesday’s meeting that the Madawaska fire and ambulance services already have written agreements to provide mutual aid to St. Agatha. He added that there is no official agreement, “just a handshake” deal that Madawaska responds automatically to calls on Pelletier Island.
Town Manager Gary Picard said that to make it official the town managers and fire chiefs in both towns would need to draft an agreement to present to their respective Select Boards for approval. Ryan Pelletier said he would contact St. Agatha officials to get them on board.
Fund for fire department
Soucy also made a plea to the board Tuesday to budget funds for maintenance of fire trucks and for a reserve account to eventually buy a new truck.
“I have two trucks that need to be repaired pretty bad right now,” Soucy said. “I really need a new truck, is what I need.”
The two trucks Soucy referred to are located at Madawaska Fire Station 2. Both Soucy and Picard said after Tuesday’s meeting that, in the past, the Madawaska Fire Department had a reserve fund in the budget to save up for a new truck, and Soucy said he would like to see that again.
“The town had put in so much money, but after they funded that last truck, they didn’t add anymore funds to the reserve,” said Soucy.
After an emotional plea Tuesday night from one of the firemen attending the Select Board meeting, newly appointed chairman Denise Duperre addressed the concerns of Soucy and the fireman.
“We are very cognizant of your plight,” she said. “Public safety trumps the mill rate that we’ve tried to maintain for years.”
Selectman Don Chasse then requested a list from Soucy of all the repairs that need to be made for the trucks to be in safe working order.
“We can’t help buy a new truck,” he said. “But we can help with the repairs, we just need to know what they are.”
The Select Board will consider the request for funding the fire truck repairs at a future meeting.
The town is still working on its 2018-2019 budget, which was supposed to be ready by July 1. The budget process was delayed, however, while officials waited for an appraisal of the Twin Rivers Paper Co. mill property to be completed. In the meantime, the town continues to operate on a month to month basis spending for no more than 1/12th of last year’s budget each month.
Picard said he now hopes to have a budget ready for residents to vote on at a special town meeting either in late September or early October.
The selectmen also voted Tuesday to approve the reconfiguration of some parking on 10th Avenue from the current parallel spaces to angled parking spaces.
Picard said the change would “help with the downtown revitalization” and create two or three additional parking spaces. A handicap accessible parking space also was accounted for in the request to alter the parking configuration.
“Parking has always been an issue in town,” Picard said Wednesday. The town manager also said that the owners of the Bakery on Main had “expressed interest” in adjusting the parking layout. Once the bakery opened, more parking was needed in the area, “and we wanted to help them out.”
The proposal was met with resistance by two board members, who voted against it — Brenda Theriault and Danielle Levesque Campbell.
Theriault explained Wednesday that she voted against the proposal because the board had previously denied assistance to other businesses with their parking requests.
“If we do it for one, we have to do it for all of them,” she said. “It should be fair for everybody, I have nothing against the bakery.”
Theriault added that changing the parking layout could raise safety concerns.
“It is a dangerous corner, and I think there could be some rear end accidents there,” she said.
Following Tuesday night’s 3-2 vote, public works crews followed through with the reconfiguration Wednesday morning, and painted angled lines on 10th Avenue.
“We hadn’t striped the old parallel parking spots this year, so it didn’t cost anything, except a little bit of paint,” Picard said.
“It added one space, I would have hoped to have gotten more.” Picard said that a cellar door prevented more spaces from being added, but there will be a handicap parking spot where there was none before.