News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, January 30, 2014
Indian Point washout fix takes top billing on Stonington selectmen agenda

A washout on Indian Point Road in Stonington

A washout is beginning to create serious problems along Indian Point Road near Butch Ciomei’s wharf, just down the road from the Stonington Co-op. The town has contracted Skip Eaton to do needed repairs in the short term.

Photo by Jessica Brophy Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Rich Hewitt

Selectmen on Monday, January 27, moved to quickly repair a section of Indian Point Road that is in danger of being washed out.

The board agreed to purchase up to five loads of crushed stone of different sizes from Skip Eaton Paving and Construction in Deer Isle to be used to shore up the washout area.

According to Town Manager Kathleen Billings-Pezaris, a combination of rain water washing off the road and the wave action from recent high run tides has eroded a section of the shoreline along the road. At times, the surf is right up against the road and if something isn’t done quickly, there is a danger that the erosion could undermine the road surface, she said.

“We’re losing part of the road bed,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of time; part of the tar is going through now.”

The affected area runs about 100 feet, starting near a culvert close to Butch Ciomei’s wharf. The town worked with Eaton on the Moose Island project, and he has some crushed granite left over from that project, Billings-Pezaris said.

“That’s good material to riprap the shoreline,”’ she said.

Billings-Pezaris said utilizing a source on the island would ease the cost involved. She said Eaton had estimated it would take between five and six loads of stone to do the job at a cost of between $3,500 and $5,000.

Chairman George Stevens suggested the town make a permanent fix by re-setting some of the larger rocks along the shore.

“That might help,” he said.

Billings-Pezaris agreed, but noted that it would take time to get the necessary equipment in place to move the larger stones.

“We need to do it as soon as possible,” she said.

Resetting the larger, existing stone also would add to the cost of the project, she said.

Eaton will work with the town crew to shore up the eroded areas along the shore.

In other action, the board rejected a request from the Tempest in a Teapot business to be allowed to sell “cups to go” from a space at the former school building.

The business currently utilizes a space in the basement to package its tea products. Billings-Pezaris said there would be an open room in the upstairs area coming available and the owners hoped to expand into it, using it for a retail sales spot and to sells cups of tea to go.

Although the selectmen seemed sympathetic to what the owners wanted to do and had no problem with them selling the packaged tea from the space, they raised concerns about selling prepared hot tea.

Donna Brewer questioned whether there were requirements for there to be running water in the room. Others expressed concern that the “cups to go” concept would expand to more of a restaurant-style operation. Evelyn Duncan said she thought the space was too small to do anything more than sell just the packaged tea.

“It’s just the wrong room to do it,” Duncan said. “If they want to do more, they’ve got to wait for another room to be available.”

On the other hand, Richard Larrabee said the town had worked to accommodate other tenants in the past, and said he favored doing the same for the “tea girls.” He saw their proposal as an economic development opportunity, noting that a small start at the school building might help them on the road to establishing a larger business in town.

Regarding the lack of running water or a stove, he suggested that they could use a water cooler and a hot plate to heat the water for the tea to go.

Although the other selectmen said they might not be opposed to them providing small sample cups for customers to try out teas before purchasing, they voted to limit the operation to retail sales of the packaged tea only. The vote was 5-1 (Larrabee).

Billings-Pezaris reported that the back taxes on a single family Main Street property (map 8A, lot 027), which the town had previously acquired, had been paid in full. The property owner of record is Gretchen Jost. The town’s recently-adopted policy on foreclosure properties allows the selectmen to convey the property back to the taxpayer once all the outstanding taxes, accrued interest and costs have been paid.

The property was the only one on a list of nine tax-acquired properties still occupied as a primary residence. The selectmen had been reluctant to sell the property with someone living there and authorized the town manager to accept the back taxes.

Meanwhile, the town’s attorney is reviewing the paperwork on at least three other tax-acquired properties. Once he has determined there are no issues with the town’s acquisition of those properties, the selectmen plan to put them out for bid, Billings-Pezaris said.

The town manager also informed the selectmen that she planned to shut down the town’s heating oil program because it was almost out of funds.

“We’ve had a lot of requests for oil this year and we’re really getting down there,” she said. “There’s no money left.”

The program provides 100 gallons of heating oil to residents in need once each year. It was established several years ago when heating oil prices spiked, and with the bitterly cold weather this winter, there have been a number of requests for assistance.

The program had about $12,000 in it at the start of the heating season, she said.

The board also approved liquor licenses for the Harbor Café and Lily’s.

Next meeting:

Stonington selectmen meet most Monday nights at 7 p.m. at the town hall.