The Sanford City Council met February 15, 2022. Councilor Bob Stackpole led the Pledge of Allegiance and asked for a moment of silence. All Councilors were present. The minutes of the previous meetings were approved.
Budget Substitution: Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio announced that Councilor Ayn Hanselmann will substitute for Councilor Becky Brink on the first two Budget Committee meetings on March 3 and 10, as Councilor Brink was unable to reschedule a prior commitment. Councilor Hanselmann was previously a member of the Budget Committee and is very familiar with the process.
Council Vacancy: Mayor Mastraccio said she has had a number of inquiries about the vacancy on the Council created by the passing of John Tuttle. Out of respect for Councilor Tuttle and his family, she will not take up the issue of replacing him until next month. According to the Sanford City Charter, “if a seat on the City Council becomes vacant, the City Council may appoint an interim Councilor to serve until December 31 of the calendar year in which the seat became vacant.” However, it is not mandatory that a vacant seat be filled – that is up to the Council to decide. If they do choose to fill the seat, the Council’s Rules of Procedure mandate that it be advertised, with written applications to be accepted for at least seven days.
She read a card from Councilor Tuttle’s wife Ann, thanking all who expressed sympathy and attended the wake and funeral. Mayor Mastraccio said she received many cards and comments herself from residents who wanted to share how much they respected Councilor Tuttle and how much he will be missed.
Friends of Downtown: Councilor Hanselmann reported that the Friends of Downtown will have a new “Best of Sanford” initiative soon, and she will share more information on that as it develops.
City Manager’s Report
RAISE Grant: City Manager Steve Buck reported on the progress of the City’s RAISE grant application (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity). The timeline is a tight one, as the application is due by April 14. He and Public Works Director Matt Hill are working closely with the Maine Department of Transportation to combine multiple projects into a single scope. The grant is expected to bring $20 million to Sanford to pay for the proposed reconstruction of Main St. from Emery St. to Winter St., School St. to Elm St., Cottage St., Washington St., the Mousam Promenade around Number One Pond, full reconstruction of Central Park and construction of a new park and ride behind Cumberland Farms. Five lit intersections will be upgraded and the failing utility infrastructure under downtown will be replaced. He said the federal funds will allow Sanford to shift local taxpayer dollars to other streets needing work.
Staffing Changes: Mr. Buck reported that grant writer Lee Burnett is leaving his position at the end of March. He thanked Mr. Burnett for his work capturing millions of dollars in grants over the past several years. He also reported that Jim Nimon, Director of the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council, is retiring effective April 22. He recognized the work he has done on behalf of the community to promote and facilitate industrial development, the SanfordNet Fiber network, market rate housing and many other projects. He welcomed back Peter Smith, former public works foreman, who has been hired back to the City as the new Assistant Public Works Director under that department’s recent reorganization.
Budget Presentation: see separate story.
Public Participation: Provencher Ln. resident Brett Williams spoke about the number of accidents and near misses he and his family have witnessed at the intersection of Grammar St. and Grammar Rd. over the years. He called it a “terrifying intersection” and asked that the City address the issue with predictable speed enforcement as well as a traffic study that could provide hard data to support redesign or other safety measures.
Public Hearings: Public hearings were held on medical marijuana grower/cultivator license renewals for Five Jacks Production, LLC, located at 72 Emery St., Unit 210; and C&M Farms, located at 27 Hancock Ln., Bldg #4. No one spoke in favor or against. Both renewals were granted under the consent agenda.
Mask Policy: After some discussion, Council members agreed to allow the Emergency Temporary Policy requiring masks to be worn in municipal offices and facilities to expire on Friday, February 17. Mr. Buck noted that the Covid numbers are trending sharply downward and the City of Portland just lifted its mask mandate. He said City Clerk Sue Cote indicated her staff are comfortable with not requiring masks. Masking will still be strongly suggested, but not mandatory at City Hall and other City-owned buildings.
City Website: Communications Coordinator Jordan Wilson gave a presentation on the urgent need for a redesign of the City’s website. She said the current website is out of date, difficult to navigate, and is inadequately serving the community. The search function displays results that are many years old instead of more current information, and the site is not mobile-friendly. It does not have accessibility features for disabled residents and is not effectively marketing the City to people who might want to live or do business here.
She researched four vendors who have experience with creating government sites, including our current provider, Gov Office. She compared the companies on cost, customer service, how quickly they could do the redesign, how customizable the site would be, and what type of search function was offered. Revize, LLC, was not only the lowest quote, but got highest marks on customer service, customizability and search capability as well. Revize has designed websites for other municipalities including St. Petersburg, FL and Des Moines, IA. The Council approved her recommendation unanimously. The redesign will take approximately four months and training will be provided to City staff to enable them to use the site most effectively.
Councilor comments: None
Future agenda items: Mayor Mastraccio asked for a report at the Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee meeting on snow removal priorities and how the new sidewalk plows are functioning. She also wants a discussion of the Grammar Rd./St. intersection at the Public Safety Subcommittee.
The full meeting video may be viewed here.