The Damariscotta Board of Selectmen approved a bid to begin repair work on the Walpole Cemetery’s historic stone arch and wall during a meeting March 2.
The selectmen voted to award the bid for the Walpole Cemetery arch and wall repairs to Stone Age Masonry, of Sabattus, for $13,000 with the understanding that the project could be expanded if additional funds are approved during the annual town meeting in June.
The restoration of the arch has been a topic of discussion for the town and the Damariscotta Cemetery Committee for the past several years, Town Manager Matt Lutkus said.
Since the construction of the arch in 1897, little maintenance has been done on the structure. Lutkus said historical records show the Walpole Cemetery Association voted to make repairs to the keystone in 1909, and additional masonry work was planned in 1948.
“We don’t know for sure when the work was done, but it’s definitely in need of repair,” Lutkus said.
In June 2010, the town received a quote from a contractor estimating the cost to complete the repairs would be $26,400, Lutkus said. The town applied for assistance from the Maine Army National Guard to repair the arch, wall, and gate, however, the project was not chosen.
“After that, the cemetery committee decided and I agreed that we would want a masonry firm that could help maintain the historical accuracy of the arch,” Lutkus said. “We also wanted to make sure the work would last for a long period of time.”
A portion of the mortar in the stone wall has deteriorated and needs to be replaced, Lutkus said. The wall also needs to be stabilized.
One of the arch supports has cracked in half and either needs to have a bracket installed to hold it together or needs to be replaced entirely, Lutkus said.
For two years, the town has worked with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and contractors to determine the work required to preserve the arch and wall. Gartley & Dorsky Engineering & Surveying, of Damariscotta, helped to develop the bid specifications for the work, Lutkus said.
Mark Daiute, of True North Surveying Services in Newcastle, has volunteered to survey the arch every six months to see if it is leaning toward Bristol Road and is in danger of falling, Lutkus said.
“It’s hard to tell just by looking at it because the granite is so uneven,” Lutkus said. “We want to know if there’s a possibility it might fall.”
The total estimated cost of the repairs is $27,200, Lutkus said. The cemetery capital reserve fund currently has a balance of $19,557.
During a joint meeting March 2, the selectmen and the Damariscotta Budget Committee recommended that the town add $10,000 to the cemetery’s capital reserve account for the 2016-2017 budget. Of that, $8,000 would be used to accomplish repairs to the arch, wall, and gate pending voter approval during the annual town meeting in June.
If the funds are not approved, the work would be limited to what can be accomplished with the funds available, Lutkus said.
Lutkus said the hope is that work could begin on the restoration and repairs shortly after the town meeting and conclude by the end of August.