Thorndike voters at Town Hall Monday night chose a new location for the town’s salt and sand shed. After the old site violated Maine Department of Environmental Protection rules for years, residents voted to purchase and develop a new site on Brooks Road.

The new location was selected from three potential sites. The chosen property on Route 139 won with 20 votes. The four acres of land initially will cost the town $24,000. Only minimal clearing is required, but the town will need to construct a driveway.

Thorndike has been setting aside money since 2016 in anticipation of the purchase and development of a new site. The balance has reached $52,000, more than double the purchase price of the property.

Another property being considered on Mill Road received 18 votes but cost $6,000 more. It also would have required minimal clearing, but the town would have acquired ownership of the existing road.

Selectman Joshua Ard said he is excited to begin construction on a new site so the town can put the Maine DEP infraction behind it.

DEP cited complaints dating to July 2016, starting with an anonymous tip that the salt and sand pile at 95 Unity Road (Route 220) was not covered and salt was running into Hall Brook. Inspections and subsequent testing by DEP confirmed the problem.

The state environmental agency threatened to fine the town if it didn’t address the issue in a timely manner. But previous selectmen made minimal effort to solve the problem, according to Ard.

Three new selectmen were voted into office this spring. Ard said they have been trying to address multiple town issues since then.

To date, he said, selectmen have been working to repair gravel roads, have taken town ownership of the fire department and are involved with the Thorndike Bicentennial celebration scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 14, in Thorndike Village.

“Hopefully everyone sees what we’ve been doing," Ard said. "It’s been a struggle sometimes but there’s been a lot of good to come from it.”

There also have been opportunities lost that the town can't recover, he noted.

If pollution at the old site had been addressed prior to 2018, DEP would have matched town funds dollar-for-dollar to build a shed at a new location.

“My preference is that this was done when it was brought to the town in 2016 and the state would have matched town funds, but that’s expired now,” Ard said, adding the offer was only good through 2017.

The Brooks Road property was pre-approved by DEP, and Ard said he expects the permitting process to go smoothly. But, if the property no longer meets DEP standards, the town will have to hold another special meeting.

The selectman said DEP will allow the town to use a concrete slab to store salt and sand this winter, but the town will have to start developing the property to code next year. The town will work within the budget to purchase and clear the property this year, then vote on a bond to start development next year.

“I’m really glad this whole thing is done with the town of Thorndike,” Ard said.