Friday, December 6, 2019

Highlighting the Town of Windham successes

Anglers Road expansion on Route 302
By Lorraine Glowczak

“We rarely celebrate the projects that have been completed and have successfully taken place by the Town [of Windham],” stated the Director of Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Thomas Bartell. “For example, we never had a ribbon cutting for the Anglers Road Project that has promoted recent profitable business and development expansions which have contributed to the town’s recent successes.”

The truth is, as a society, we often find fault in municipality efforts but rarely take a moment to focus on the accomplishments that contribute to a socially, financially, culturally and environmentally healthy community. It is for this reason we take the time to celebrate a few accomplishments that have occurred in recent years in Windham, often with the help of civic minded volunteers. there are many successes to highlight, such as the headway Windham has made in supporting the water/lake quality improvements of which The Windham Eagle and other local newspapers have reported, the focus of this article will be on the following: Brand Road improvement, LED streetlights and economic development as a result of the Angler Road project.

Brand Road Improvement:
Windham is a small, rural town that is growing and expanding. In order to keep up with the growth, roadways must keep up as well. Although there are many roadways that need to be considered, Brand Road has been a challenge for the Town of Windham for many years. Thirty years to be exact.
Brand Road is a town road located in North Windham between two major thoroughfares, Routes 115 and 202. As such, Brand Road is travelled by many motorists as a shortcut between the two routes. Having to withstand heavy travel, Brand Road became unsafe and, especially during the winter months, impassable.

Windham citizen, Mike O’Brien, purchased property on Brand Road in 1985 and has lived there since 1989 – when it was a small dirt road. He has been a long-time advocate to improve the road’s safety.“During the 1990s, as more homes were being built on the road, there was significantly more traffic  
and it was becoming problematic,” O’Brien explained. “Not only were there potholes but there were many dangerous incidents that included a town sand truck that slid off the side of the road and spilled sand and salt. Unfortunately, the salt killed trees along that lined the side of the road.” O’Brien also added that there were many incidents that involved school buses as well.

It was a that point that O’Brien looked to the Town Council to improve the roadway for safety reasons. “I was told in not so kind words to forget about it,” he said. That was his first attempt 30 years ago.

But O’Brien didn’t stop there. He collected signatures and submitted petitions – not once, not twice but three times -to no avail. It wasn’t until 2014 when he approached the then new Town Councilor, Jarrod Maxfield that O’Brien’s persistence paid off.

“Mike called me up soon after I was elected in my first election,” began Maxfield. “I invited experienced Town Councilor, Dave Nadeau, to join me in talking to Mike. We went to his house and sat in his garage with a neighbor on a Saturday morning and had a conversation. After listening to his story, we told him we would do what we could to improve Brand Road.”

Town Councilors David Nadeau (L) and Jarrod Maxfield (R)
stand on the improved and more safe Rand Road
with Windham resident and advocate Mike O'Brien
Fast forward to today; Brand Road has been widened and paved. “Kids are able to ride their bikes and
people can walk their dogs on the road safely now,” O’Brien stated. “I can never thank Jarrod and Dave enough. When they sat with me in my garage and listened to me – they promised they would not drop the ball. And they didn’t. They stayed with me the whole way to get this road improved for safe travel. Jarrod and Dave would calm me down when I felt upset and they kept me informed. Again, I can never thank them enough.”

LED streetlights:
The Town of Windham is working with the communities of Raymond, Gorham and Standish to cut costs that stem from energy and electricity consumption produced through essential streetlights by converting them to LED street technology.

The towns are working with a consulting firm, RealTerm Energy, a company that works closely with municipalities to install reliable and affordable LED lighting upgrades, often providing the service to groups of towns working together. In this case, the collective buying will be a result of the collaboration between the four Lakes Region towns. the exact cost savings is still being analyzed, it is determined that the upgrade to LED
stoplights will cut cost significantly. “Based on RealTerm’s analysis, the Town could see a potential 77% savings in its annual streetlight costs, and a five to six-year payback on the initial capital investment to purchase the LED lights,” stated Gretchen Anderson, Stormwater Compliance Officer.

Anderson also stated there are other benefits in addition to the cost savings. “Converting to LED streetlights has multiple benefits. The Town has the ability to reduce its energy consumption by 71% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70%, while improving visibility and public safety. Furthermore, the town can make the most of the streetlight conversion by utilizing Smart Control technology.”

According to, Smart Control technology allows a city to schedule lights on or off easily and set dimming levels of lights so a city can provide the right level of lighting intelligently. 

Smart street lighting control systems accurately detect light failure and other maintenance problems in real time so malfunctions can be fixed quickly. This intelligent system provides the operator with web access for automatic or manual monitoring and control over illumination performance. 

Additional smart automation systems such as temperature and pollution sensors, traffic signals, security, fire detection, visibility conditions and traffic sensors may be integrated and supported easily. Anderson stated, LED and Smart Control technology can further increase energy and maintenance
savings, decrease light pollution, and increase safety on Town streets.”

The completion of this street-light conversion is still being determined and the timeline is forthcoming.

Economic Development as a result of Anglers Road Project:

In approximately 2008, the Town had a vision to develop the land behind Bob’s Seafood at the intersections of Route 302 and Anglers Road with the purpose of business and economic growth. There was one challenge, however, in that plan. Angler’s Road is a private road, and as such, state and federal transportation funding would not be available to expand Angler’s Road to accommodate traffic.

“As a result, we (WEDC) had to purchase the land in order to give the town the right of way, making it a public roadway,” explained Windham Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC) Director, Thomas Bartell. “This purchase facilitated the construction and allowed for Federal and State DOT participation in the funding of the project.” Bartell explained in this week’s Real Estate column, the Windham Town Council provided the “patient capital” to finance the purchase of the land via a low-interest loan through the Tax-Increment Financing program. The “patient capital” was vitally important to the success of this project which ended up being ten years in the making.

Bartell explained in an interview that there was much that had to happen in 10 years in order for the
project to be completed successfully. “There was a lot involved such as the planning and design process and market evaluations – all that simply takes time.”

Although it did take some time, the property is now all sold, and the town is paid back what is due to it, including interest.

The original vision of 10 years ago is now a reality. As Bartell stated, the Angler’s Road intersection has been upgraded, Bob’s Seafood has been transformed into a full-scale restaurant, bar and seafood with a 2,000 square foot expansion – adding 25 new jobs, the addition of the community-based Momentum organization as well as the newly built 42 unit condos. Plus, there is more coming in the near future.

And speaking of the future, perhaps it will be good to stop from time to time and recognize the accomplishments that do take place within the town. Whether you are or have been a town manager, a town councilor, town staff or a town volunteer – we take this moment to say thank you for a job well done. Of course, there is always room for improvement….but for now….let us focus on the good that has been accomplished so that we, as a town, can move forward in a positive and solution-based manner.

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