Springvale resident Jim Deyermond (at podium) addresses the Council
By Zendelle Bouchard
The Sanford City Council met November 21, 2023. All members were present.
Mayor Becky Brink read George Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation from 1789, and thanked all the people who serve on committees, as well as staff members.
Subcommittee & Other Committee Reports
Councilor Ayn Hanselmann reported on the Public Safety Subcommittee meeting from the previous week (see our story). She added that annual dog licenses are available now, and can be done online here. The cost for a dog license is $11 for an unaltered dog, and $6 for a spayed or neutered dog. There is a $25 late fee to register after Jan. 31.
She also reported on her meeting as a board member of the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council. The board discussed the overall economic climate, the ALICE report from the United Way, interest rates on commercial lending and more. She noted that Sanford is still seeing a tremendous number of building permits being pulled despite high interest rates. There was a report on the IDC’s work to increase available acreage for industrial development, and the board also heard from staff members about public/private partnerships, the façade grant, the RAISE grant projects and more.
Councilor Bob Stackpole reported on the Solid Waste Subcommittee meeting (see this story) and the Zoning Subcommittee meeting (see this story.) Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy reported on the Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee meeting (see this story.)
City Manager’s Report
SS4A: City Manager Steve Buck reported on the ongoing Safe Streets For All survey. The survey is available online here and there are hard copies available at the libraries and at City Hall. The greater the participation in the survey, the better Sanford’s chances will be at qualifying for federal infrastructure grants to address safety issues. As of his report, 180 surveys had been filled out, including 153 by Sanford/Springvale residents.
General Assistance: A mystery check for $52,841 that the City recently received turned out to be a onetime distribution from the state to offset the historic demand for general assistance benefits. The funds were deposited in the GA revenue account.
Apartments: The Central Park Residences, an apartment complex which will be built on School Street across from Central Park, is still moving forward. The project, which was originally planned to be all market-rate housing, has been modified to include some workforce housing, which is defined as limited to renters who make 80% of the average median income. This enables the project to be eligible for financing from MaineHousing.
- Buck reported that the RAISE grant projects have hit a snag due to an issue with the Trust Company building at the corner of Main and Washington Streets. The survey disclosed that the City owns the sidewalk up to the building, but also revealed that the building foundation extends underneath the sidewalk.
- A pending application with the state seeks to reconstruct High Street from Washington to North Avenue, but is complicated by disused infrastructure underneath the street, including oil and steam lines.
- MaineDOT will be replacing a culvert, which carries the Great Works River under Lebanon Street, with a new box culvert in summer 2025. The work is expected to have a major impact on traffic.
- The parking area for the new Mousam River Bistro at 6 River St. has been repaved. It will have the top coat and striping done in the spring, in time for the restaurant’s opening.
Homelessness Update: The City is preparing for the York County Homelessness Summit which will take place at the Sanford Performing Arts Center on December 11. All York County legislators and municipal officials have been invited to participate. It will be recorded and broadcast on YouTube and on Town Hall Streams. The Mental Health Unit of the Sanford Police Department is now tracking 150 individuals who are living outdoors or in their vehicles, and the number is increasing. The City has 16 known homeless encampments and they are being managed with bi-weekly trash collection. Meals are being coordinated. Some homeless residents are being bused to the YMCA for showers. The warming center at the Lafayette School is still not open, but has a target date of Dec. 1. Buck said the space there doesn’t make a dent in the need for shelter and services. There are currently only 36 shelter beds in all of York County. He explained the difference between high-barrier shelters, which require a person to be sober to stay there, and low-barrier, which will accept people who are actively using substances. Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio has a bill before the state legislature to increase shelter funding significantly.
Correction: There are 52 beds available at shelters serving unhoused people in York County. The total was reported inaccurately in a story last week. York County Shelters operates a 36-bed adult shelter in Alfred and a 16-bed family shelter in Sanford.
Councilor Hanselmann said the Sanford Food Pantry is collecting donations of money and items for the unhoused, and she urged those who want to help to use that pathway. Mayor Brink added that coats and blankets may be dropped off at the police station.
DPW: Public Works Director Matt Hill made a presentation on winter road maintenance. See separate story.
Public Participation: Springvale resident Dianne Connolly asked that the minutes of the Nov. 8 meeting be corrected to reflect that she does not advocate banning all firearms in the City, just hunting within City limits during deer season. She also objected to having to register to use the Sanford Connects website.
Springvale resident Jim Deyermond disputed Councilor Stackpole’s comments about voter suppression. Deyermond said it is defined by the courts as changes that increase voter fatigue or requires voters to wait in long lines.
C-PACE: A public hearing was held on the new Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program (C-PACE) through Efficiency Maine. The program will allow commercial, industrial and multi-family property owners to access alternative financing to undertake energy efficiency and clean energy improvements to their buildings. A similar program already exists for residential property owners. No one spoke in favor or against during the hearing. Later in the meeting, a first reading was held. Growth Council Director Keith McBride said there is very little downside to the program, and that the administrative load will be borne by Efficiency Maine and the private lenders who participate. There will be a second reading at the Council’s Dec. 5 meeting.
Polling Place Consolidation: See separate story.
Resignations: The Council accepted, with regret, the resignations of Holly Gooch from the Sanford Arts Commission and William Grant from the Airport Advisory Committee.
Appointment: The Council appointed Jen Roberts of Warren’s Office Supplies to fill the Small Business Representative position on the Growth Council’s Board of Directors.
Ditching Excavator: The Council voted to accept a bid from Jordan Equipment of Falmouth for a new replacement roadway ditching rubber-tracked excavator in the amount of $86,666.60. The funds will come from the DPW’s capital reserve. The old, larger excavator will be sold, and the City expects to get more for it than the cost of the new one.
Council Member Comments
The Councilors all wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Councilors Nate Hitchcock and Jonathan Martell encouraged residents to continue to call and email Councilors with any concerns. Councilor Hanselmann said she jogged on the first part of the Mousam Promenade that is being constructed on River Street. The 10-foot wide path allows three people to walk or jog side-by-side and she said the new lighting is gorgeous. She said the Small Business event hosted by the Friends of Downtown last week was very well attended and great feedback was received. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy reminded residents that the City is still taking applications for volunteers for board and committees “both fun and serious.”
Future Agenda Items
Councilor Stackpole asked if the City could look into putting a canoe/kayak launch near the corner of William Oscar Emery Drive and River Street, at the little park dedicated to Dr. Bud Johnston. City Manager Buck said he will bring the idea to the Parks and Recreation Department. Councilor Hanselmann asked what the City’s capability is for notifying residents in an emergency situation. Buck said a system has been set up (residents can sign up here) and it will be expanded.