Two residents with an interest in seeing roads repaired seized a moment of indecision by selectmen to offer their own services.

Tim Murphy and Hans Schmidt offered to fill potholes, maintain bridges, reset culverts or any other work town officials would sign off on, especially if it meant the work would get done sooner or to a higher standard than in the past.

Knox has used mostly informal work arrangements for smaller road repairs in recent years with totals for cold patching potholes and culverts since 2014 ranging from $60 to just shy of $1,000.

This year, selectmen had expected to hire Justin Morton to fill potholes, but on July 11 reported that he was unsure if his insurance carrier would cover the work.

Murphy wanted selectmen to fix a culvert on Kenney Road that he believed was flooding a piece of land he hopes to sell. Another resident complained of problems on Frye Mountain Road that several in attendance attributed to poor grading.

Hans Schmidt, a town resident with experience in road work, testified to both problems and informally suggested solutions including doing the work himself. Murphy was eager to resolve his culvert problem and offered to provide insurance to speed the process along, hire Schmidt to do the work and send the town a bill.

"I'm a well-bonded and insured guy," he said. "… I'll have an insurance policy here tomorrow, pull the trigger."

Selectman Galen Larrabee said he wanted to see the culvert himself before voting to add it to a list of others that needed to be reset or replaced.

When the conversation circled around to potholes, Murphy and Schmidt again stepped up to offer their services as a team. They gave selectmen an estimate of $6,800 to put down 5 tons of asphalt purchased by the town.

Schmidt later offered to do some work on local bridges, to which Larrabee said, "Go figure it," as in: Send us an estimate.

Knox is spending significantly more on roads this year, though whether it's enough for residents remains to be seen. Voters set aside $40,000 for roadwork at their annual town meeting in March, then increased the total to $80,000 at a special town meeting after work on Shibles Road went over budget.

The town has spent $25,000 to $30,000 per year on roads since 2012, according to figures from the town office.

The potholes bid from Murphy and Schmidt would cost the town significantly more than similar work in past years, but the team argued the work would be done to a higher standard and with attention to the ever-changing safety demands of insurance companies.

Selectmen considered it, but resolved to check with Morton before jumping ship. When Murphy and Schmidt left the meeting, the selectmen made some passing comments about the comparatively high bid.

"(The patches) better last for 30 years at that price," Selectman Jeffrey Stevens said. Others figured the patches would indeed last longer than they had in the past, but probably closer to three years than 30.

Renegotiating a hiking trail crossing

Representatives of the Hills to Sea Trail appeared at the selectmen's meeting after learning that a piece of town land along the 40-mile, Unity-to-Belfast hiking route did not in fact belong to the town. Charles and Nellie Littlefield, the apparent owners after a recent survey, were also in attendance July 11.

The new survey, which town officials appeared to embrace, left a small peninsula of land, covering less than a half-acre, still under town ownership. Several residents in attendance suggested they just give it to the Littlefields. The selectmen seemed interested but a concern was raised that the land might be limited by the terms of the deed to be conserved. One resident in attendance suggested that the new owners could stick a birdbath on it and call it a conservation area.

The Littlefields asked questions about the Hills to Sea Trail — would people camp on their property, or build fires? Trail representative Buck O'Herin noted that the trail crosses more than 60 private properties based on handshake agreements, and organizers work closely with property owners to resolve any potential problems.

O'Herin and several other representatives spoke with the couple outside the Town Office meeting room, as well. Nellie Littlefield said as she was leaving that they hadn't yet reached an agreement.

"We're on the way," she said.