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Design for the new "Tot Lot" playground at Benton Park.

The Sanford City Council met March 15, 2022 via Zoom. All members were present. Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio led the Pledge of Allegiance and the moment of silence. She asked that we keep the Ukrainian people in our thoughts and prayers.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Mastraccio reported on last week’s Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee meeting, and Councilor Ayn Hanselmann reported on the Public Safety Subcommittee. (See our separate stories on the Airport as well as other Subcommittee discussions.)

City Manager’s Report

Communications Survey: City Manager Steve Buck reported that the City’s Communications survey for residents was launched March 10, and received 214 responses as of Monday morning. The survey is online (here), and is also available in paper form in many locations around town, including at both libraries, City Hall and the Trafton Center. Sanford Housing Authority is doing a mailer for its residents and will discuss it at a community meeting as well. Communications Coordinator Jordan Wilson has reached out to other organizations including the American Legion, Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club.

RAISE Grant: Mr. Buck gave a brief update on the grant application, which is due by March 31. He expects the City will be requesting the maximum amount of $25 million given the scope of works as well as the rapidly escalating costs. Among the projects included is a new underground utility bank along Main St. from Roberts St. to Lebanon St.

Growth Council: Mr. Buck said as Chair of the Growth Council, he has been working with its Board of Directors to design advertising to attract candidates for the Director’s position, to replace Jim Nimon who is retiring on April 22. Applications are due April 1, and he anticipates the position to be vacant for 30-60 days before a new Director can start.

Other Hiring News: Mr. Buck welcomed the following new City of Sanford employees:

  • Cynthia Utgard, who has returned full time as a certified dispatcher
  • Gary Souliere, part time custodian
  • Jodie Kimball Anderson, executive assistant to the Fire Department
  • Nikolas Boulaw, mechanic II
  • Avery Mee, dispatcher

He noted there are several more people in the hiring process, and several positions are still open, including police officer and dispatcher, equipment operator, mechanic, seasonal laborer, snow plow operator, seasonal park laborer, lifeguard and camp counselor.

Communications and Presentations

Goodall Brook: Mindee Goodrum of the York County Soil and Water Conservation District, gave a presentation on the current status of the Goodall Brook restoration effort.

Cycle Sanford: Kristen Cyr, one of the founders of Cycle Sanford, gave a presentation on the group’s past accomplishments as well as upcoming initiatives. Their three priorities for this year are:

  • A pump track, which is a series of rolling hills and berms that cyclists use to gather momentum so that the course can be ridden without much pedaling. Pump tracks across the US have become destinations for travelers who are into cycling. Ms. Cyr said the group is putting together a proposal with all options, including funding mechanisms, which they will present to the Property Subcommittee soon.
  • The Nasson Bicycle Center, run by Peter Chase, teaches kids how to build, maintain and enjoy their bikes. Ms. Cyr said there are opportunities to expand on his work and get more community support.
  • Bike Fest 2022, which was first held in 2019, cancelled due to the pandemic in 2020 and cancelled due to weather in 2021. This year’s event has a rain date. (See New Business below for more info on this event.)

Public Participation: There was no public comment on items not on the agenda.

Public Hearings

Cannabis licenses: There were 24 public hearings for renewals of marijuana grower/cultivator licenses, and two public hearings for new licenses. See the meeting agenda here for the complete list. Code Enforcement Officer Jamie Cole said all the operations had been inspected and met the licensing criteria. No members of the public spoke in favor or against the licenses. They were all approved by the Council under the Consent Agenda.

Community Enterprise Grant: A public hearing was held to receive comments and questions on a proposed application to the Maine CDBG Program for a Community Enterprise Grant to improve façades on eligible downtown buildings. Lee Burnett, the city’s grant writer, said the grant is meant to address blight conditions in downtown areas. The grant will provide up to $25,000 to property owners for improvements such as windows and siding. He said three downtown property owners have already expressed interest and are willing to contribute the necessary matching funds.

Retail Marijuana: A public hearing and first reading on a proposed ordinance to allow retail adult-use marijuana sales was held. See separate story.

Old Business

Lagooning Moratorium: The second reading of a proposed extension on the moratorium on lagooning and creation of ponds below the seasonal high water table in mineral extraction operations was held. David Parent, Superintendent of the Sanford Water District and a member of the Mineral Extraction Task Force, gave an explanation of how digging into the water table can damage aquifers, and showed a map of the sand and gravel aquifers in Sanford and their relation to public water supplies and wellhead protection zones. The Council unanimously approved extending the moratorium for 180 days to give the Task Force time to finish working on the mineral extraction ordinance.

New Business

Charter Review Committee: Mr. Buck explained that the Sanford City Charter requires a Committee be appointed to review the Charter and make recommendations for amendments every ten years, and this is the tenth year. The Council approved the following appointments to the Committee:

  • Lance Hoenig – Chair
  • Maura Herlihy – Vice Chair
  • Bob Stackpole – City Council Representative
  • David Parent
  • Joan Hamlin-Chapin
  • Jack McAdam
  • Paul Demers
  • Kimberly LaChance
  • Steve Buck, City Manager – Advisory

Meetings will be public and work must be completed by the end of June. A public hearing will be held over the summer so the Council can take action in time to get the Charter revision on the ballot in November.

Benton Playground: Parks and Rec Director Brady Lloyd gave a little background on the proposal. The old tennis courts on the Kimball St. side were removed last year to make way for a playground for young children. The project was put out to bid, and bids were received from three vendors. He recommended the contract be awarded to O’Brien & Sons, whose $81,050 bid was the highest, but also had the best design with the most equipment. Their design was also the only one with a reflection swing, which the Recreation Advisory Board wanted, and the only one with monkey bars. A reflection swing is one in which a parent and child can swing together facing each other. The City already has three playgrounds installed by O’Brien & Sons and they have proven to be good quality. There will be fencing around the playground, which the Property Subcommittee recommended to keep the toddlers from running off. The ground surface will be safety fiber wood chips, which is what the elementary schools also use. The proposal was approved. The funds will come from the existing Capital Improvements Plan.

Rules of Procedure: The Council discussed the meeting policy laid out in its Rules of Procedure, relative to Covid-19 transmission levels. Mr. Buck explained that while the CDC still shows York County as having high transmission levels, the state has developed a new metric called Community Level, under which York County and Cumberland County are currently shown as low, which looks at different criteria. After some discussion, the Council decided to plan to resume meeting in person at its April 18 meeting, but will continue to have Subcommittees meet by Zoom for the time being.

Road Closures for Bike Fest: The Council heard details of Bike Fest 2022 from Lee Burnett of Cycle Sanford. The event will be held June 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. with a rain date of June 5. William Oscar Emery Dr., Riverside Ave. and Pioneer Ave. will be closed to motor vehicles during the event. The festivities will include a BMX “jam” at the YMCA, a kid’s obstacle course, bike rodeo, a talk on cycling safety, music, food vendors, and a visit from Bruce the Moose. Zip Zamarchi, an antique bicycle enthusiast from Eliot, will bring a trailer full of the least dangerous bikes from his collection for people to try out. Mr. Burnett called Bike Fest a great way to experience Sanford in a new way. The Council approved the road closures unanimously.

Police Cruiser Design: Deputy Police Chief Eric Small presented a proposal for a change to the design of Sanford’s police cruisers, going back to the future with a style similar to what the Department had before it switched to the current black-and-white design in 2010. The new (old) design will be a solid black vehicle with the Police Department patch on the door, and the car number on the side behind the passenger door. The present style is created by wrapping the doors in white vinyl, which chips and peels and fades, and DC Small said officers requested the change to something that would hold up better. It would also have the benefit of saving taxpayers money, as the wraps are considerably more expensive than a solid color scheme. There was some concern that the cars will be less visible, but he said the light bar across the top will still make them easy to spot. The new style will be phased in over time. The Council approved the change unanimously.

Future Agenda Items: Counselor Jonathan Martell asked for a discussion about filling the open Council seat. Mayor Mastraccio said it will be on the agenda in April.

The meeting video may be viewed here.

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