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Referendum on sidewalks divides small Midcoast Maine community

The town began talking about adding sidewalks back in 2017 and applied for a grant with the Maine Department of Transportation.
Published: Oct. 31, 2020 at 8:57 AM EDT
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UNION, Maine (WMTW) - A referendum on sidewalks is dividing the small Knox County town of Union.

The town began talking about adding sidewalks back in 2017 and applied for a grant with the Maine Department of Transportation.

The town was awarded $400,000 for the project that will add about a half-mile stretch of sidewalk on Depot Street.

The town has the remaining $100,000 for the project in its budget, but some residents are upset. They argue that it could increase property taxes and lead to the removal of trees.

Because of the debate over the project, the Board of Selectmen put the issue on the November ballot.

Town Manager Jay Feyler, who has lived in Union for 25 years, said he’s never seen an issue like this create such animosity in the community.

“Normally you have a few people who are against everything. They argue for it, and it’s all over and I’ve just seen this, and I think it comes down from the federal level and state level. We’re just seeing this nastiness, and it becomes personal and it really shouldn’t,” Feyler said.

If the referendum fails, the town will owe Maine DOT money for engineering and surveying costs associated with the project.

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