January 26, 2022

Road-study committee appointments tabled

ELLSWORTH — After considerable discussion Monday night, the Ellsworth City Council again tabled a proposal to appoint a volunteer committee to study the repair and repaving of city streets.

The proposal came from Council Philip Shea who said he was not satisfied with the way the city streets were being maintained.

“We’re doing a lousy job the way we’re doing it,” Shea said. “We’re not getting our money’s worth. It’s time for a change. Somebody’s got to think about the roads and make some recommendations. This is an ideal time for planning.”

Under the proposal, the committee would be composed of one member from each voting district and would also include the city’s public works director.

Councilor Roger Dow supported Shea’s proposal noting that such a committee would benefit the Council with its recommendations.

“There’s no reason not to have a committee,” Dow said. “It would help us at budget time to have somebody give us the information we need to make decisions.”

Council Chairman George W. Spreng, argued that the committee might only result in a duplication of effort.

“I wonder if a committee is necessary,” he said. “We have the City Council and we have the highway foreman. We go over the road situation every year and it’s up to us to decide what to do or not do. And we still have to get technical input from somewhere.”

Shea said he had met with City Manager Herbert Gilsdorf to discuss the idea of a committee and that they had both prepared a list of recommended committee members to be appointed.

Gilsdorf qualified that recommendation noting that he didn’t think the appointment of a committee was a “particularly great idea.”

“But if you’re going to have a committee, you should have people who know what they’re talking about,” he said.

Gilsdorf also said he resented the personal and professional “slam” against him and the city’s highway foreman Myron Grant, that charged that the roads were not being taken care of.

“We go over the roads every year and we sit down very carefully with our consultants to discuss the road program,” he said. “The only problem is that there is never enough money to complete the project. It’s not a question of bad planning or shoddy work being done.”

Spreng added that while the Shea might have the names of some people willing to serve on the committee, there might be others who would also be willing to serve. He pointed out that the Council had not advertised for volunteers for the committee, nor had it established any guidelines that would govern the committee once it had been appointed. Although there was some discussion about advertising, that was not included in the motion to table the appointments, nor was there any further discussion about guidelines for the committee.

Councilor Lee McCormick suggested the delay in appointing the committee, noting that it was not something that needed to be done immediately. McCormick pointed out that they were not discussing this year’s road projects, but what work would be done on the city roads next year.

Councilors agreed to discuss the issue again at the next Council meeting.

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