Council OKs firefighter grant, denies Riverfront request

8 years ago
HOULTON, Maine — If all goes well, the town could soon have a new pumper truck and turn-out gear for the Houlton Fire Department.

At an Oct. 25, 2016 meeting, town councilors approved Fire Chief Milton Cone’s request for the town to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) monies that would provide $395,000 for a new pumper tanker and $75,000 for gear for firefighters.

Councilors also denied a request from Nancy Ketch, Houlton’s community/economic development director, to apply for a federal grant for Riverfront Park improvements.

In his presentation, Cone explained that the town’s turn-out gear was approximately 15 years old, and in dire need of replacing.

The town applied for a similar grant in January of this year, but was not successful. However, in the review of its application, FEMA officials encouraged the town to re-apply after a few changes to the paperwork were made.

Cone added the town would be able to apply for two separate grants for the fire department. The grant for the pumper truck requires a 5 percent match ($18,810), with those funds coming from the town’s TIF account. The grant for the turn-out gear also requires a 5 percent match ($3,572) with the money coming from the town’s Grant Match Account.

The Riverfront Park grant would have brought $55,000 in federal funds to be used for projects at the park. According to Ketch, the money raised by the Riverfront Park Committee for the restroom project was going to be used to leverage $55,000 in additional funds through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. The town would be required to provide an equal match of $55,000 (for a grand total of $110,000), but those funds would have been covered by the Riverfront Park Committee.

In addition to the restrooms, the grant would allow the town to pave an expanded area for parking, install new LED lights along the walking path and across the Gateway Crossing bridge and the railings on the bridge would be painted.

Included in the application was funding to purchase a new canopy for the Just For Kids playground. Marie Carmichael, recreation director, said that canopy would help provide a shaded area at the site that was lost when trees were removed for the installation of new playground equipment.

Three of the four councilors (Brent Dickison, Jane Torres and Sue Waite-York) voted in favor of applying for the grant, but because the town’s charter stipulates that four votes are needed for a motion to pass, the measure died.