AMESBURY — The mayor is hoping to push forward three significant projects that have been stalled for months, saying he wants to move the town past the obstacles, which are often a topic of discussion between town officials and the other involved parties, including the state.
The Department of Public Works relocation, widening and improvements on Route 110, and updating the town's library are all projects that have been years in the works but have sat dormant in recent months for various reasons, though all are tied to funding in some way.
The most imminent progress will be on a state project to improve and widen Route 110, Mayor Thatcher Kezer said. Amesbury and the state's highway department reached an agreement where Amesbury will pay to up $50,000 of the engineering costs of the project. The state will fund the rest of the $160,000 to $170,000 cost.
The agreement, which will be signed as soon as possible, Kezer said, will allow the project to go ahead. Town officials are now determining where the $50,000 will come from. State money for economic development could be a resource.
"We're working out what our options are," the mayor said.
With the ground-breaking of the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority transportation center set for August, Kezer said that will "start the clock ticking" for a DPW relocation. The construction of the center would include the area where the Public Works department houses its sand and salt supply, which will need to be moved.
"Hopefully we'll have a permanent solution" by that time, Kezer said. If not, a temporary one will be arranged.
In January, the town hired two consultants to tour an empty property on South Hunt Road — formerly owned by Andrew Corp. — and issue their findings to town officials, but nothing has progressed since. The town is considering relocating the Public Works garage from its current site in the Lower Millyard to make way for the redevelopment of the area.
Moving to South Hunt Road would require renovating and converting the building to make it suitable for the Department of Public Works and its equipment. The building has been empty since November 2006, when Andrew Corp. closed its Amesbury factory. The 74,500-square-foot, two-story building is assessed at $5.43 million.
The mayor said yesterday that nothing has been finalized.
"We're looking at several different options," Kezer said.
A key component needed to make any decisions for the library's future is to first update the "library building program," which assesses the town's library needs. A consultant has quoted the town $6,000 to do the work, but the town has yet to find the money.
Finding that $6,000 in the budget will be tough, Kezer said, adding that each dollar of the budget is allocated for something.
A decision on whether to renovate and expand or relocate the town's library remains stalled a full three years after a proposed expansion project was defeated at the voting polls.
There are options, Kezer said, including trying to find it somewhere in the operating budget "if we can;" taking money from the building maintenance line item, since the study will be used toward a facilities project; or waiting until August to see if any free cash can be used for that study.
The study is on a list of "unmet needs" in Amesbury, Kezer said. If and when funds of any kind become available, that list is looked at in order to determine what those dollars can be used for.
"The key is having a plan," Kezer said.