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The Sanford City Council held its regular meeting on Tuesday, August 17. Councilor Luke Lanigan was absent with notice; all other Councilors were present.

Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy led the pledge of allegiance and asked for a moment of silence. The minutes of the last meeting were approved.

Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio reported on last week’s Public Safety and Municipal Operations Subcommittee meetings. Councilor Bob Stackpole gave an update on last week’s Zoning Subcommittee. Councilor John Tuttle and City Manager Steven Buck reported on last week’s Solid Waste Subcommittee. See previous story.

Mayor Mastraccio announced that the Council’s Subcommittees will begin meeting once a month, instead of twice a month as has been happening. She said the Subcommittees are taking up an inordinate amount of staff time, and were never meant to take the place of full discussion by the Council. They will focus on development and discussion of issues that are not yet ready to go before the full Council.

Mayor Mastraccio reported on the Leadership Team meeting that was held on August 12. The Leadership team consists of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, City Manager, Superintendent of Schools and School Committee Chair. They heard a report on the school reopening plan (see previous story), and discussed ways to coordinate city and school communications. Future uses for Willard School, Lafayette School and the Memorial Gym were also discussed, but no decisions have been made yet.

In his City Manager’s report, Mr. Buck said that progress has been made in setting up the new Board of Directors for the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council. Legal counsel has drafted the amended Bylaws and the new Board and Bylaws are expected to be in place by the end of September.

He said the other item which has consumed his attention since last week is the new state immunization requirements for health care workers. The rule also applies to state-licensed Emergency Medical Services staff, which would include the dispatchers at the Sanford Regional Communications Center. The state held an emergency meeting that day on Zoom to discuss the ramifications of this, but hundreds of online attendees overwhelmed their capacity, so it has been rescheduled for Monday.

Under Public Participation, Springvale resident Dianne Connolly asked if the Council could look into why a turn lane from Bridge St. onto Pleasant St. was never implemented after it was approved a few years ago. She said the Council also approved making Merrill St. a two-way street, and that has also not been done.

Public hearings were held on two new cannabis grower/cultivator licenses: Greenfellas Cultivation for adult use marijuana at 9 Renaissance Way, and Garden Trove for medical marijuana at 81 Industrial Ave., Unit C, Room 3. There were no comments either for or against, and both licenses were granted.

A public hearing was also held on a liquor license application by Welcome Home Diner, 6 Lebanon St. Owner Michael Grenier said they have no intention of becoming a bar, but wanted to offer very limited liquor, perhaps six or seven different beers, wine and mimosas. He thanked the City for the assistance he received from the City Clerk, Planning and Codes Departments in getting the Diner up and running. There were no other comments, and the license was granted.

The Council confirmed the findings and orders on the four dangerous building hearings that were held at the previous meeting on August 3. Community Development Director Ian Houseal reported that, since the hearings, he has been in contact with mortgagees on 19 Mill St., 99 High St. and 6 Proulx Ct. A property maintenance company has since boarded up windows on the 27 Wilson St. home.

There was an agenda item to reconsider the August 3 vote on the amendment to the Rules of Procedure related to meeting protocols during the pandemic, requested by Councilor Lanigan, who had said he wanted to change his vote. However, Mayor Mastraccio said he later withdrew his request. No other Councilors who voted in favor of the amendment were interested in reconsidering it.

The Council approved road closures for the Police Department’s National Night Out event on August 26. Deputy Chief Eric Small described the activities lined up for the National Night Out including Police, Fire Department and LifeFlight vehicles on display, a live band, free hamburgers, hot dogs and ice cream. A dunk tank staffed with police officers will raise money for the Friends of Downtown group which is partnering with the Police Department to help with the event. There is a rain date of August 30.

Road closures were also approved for Randall’s Run for the Gym on September 4, and the Sanford Bike Fest on September 25. Mr. Buck said the Bike Fest has been a very popular event in the past, which promotes bicycling in Sanford and brings activity into the downtown.

The Council voted 5-1 to enter into a contract with the Maine Department of Transportation for construction of the Downtown Trails Connector along Riverside Ave. and William Oscar Emery Dr., which is also part of the Mousam Promenade multi-use path around Number One Pond. Councilor Jonathan Martell was the lone vote in opposition. The total amount is $1,168,090, of which $400,000 is being funded through a Safe Routes To School grant from the federal government. Public Works Director Matt Hill explained that the work on this section will not actually be done until 2023, but an extra year is needed to satisfy all the requirements that go along with the federal grant. Sanford’s share of the cost will come from moneys budgeted for the Capital Improvements Plan.

Councilor Ayn Hanselmann said projects like this one are made possible by the support of the Council and voters who approved the road bond and CIP investment plan in 2019. Councilor Martell told the Sanford Springvale News that he was concerned about the City being solely liable for any cost overruns on the project. He also said he has heard from constituents expressing concerns over CIP and bond funds being spent on “landscaping and parks projects” instead of road and infrastructure improvements. He added that he is not opposed to the project, but thinks the overall cost to the taxpayer could be less.

The Council accepted the resignation of Robert Thuet from the Airport Advisory Committee, following his move to South Carolina. Councilor Tuttle thanked Mr. Thuet for his years of service and leadership on the Committee. Mayor Mastraccio said that the City will put out a request for people to apply for the seat on the Committee.

The Council accepted a $250,000 bid from Matt Landry of Dick Landry Lawncare for the improvements to the Midtown Mall parking lot (see previous story). The project is being paid for by a grant from the Community Development Block Grant, with required matching funds to be contributed by private entities surrounding the Mall. Mr. Houseal explained that the project was put out to bid but got no bidders. In that scenario, the City is allowed to negotiate with an individual contractor for the work, which resulted in the agreement with Mr. Landry. Work on the project is expected to begin in mid-September.

The Council voted to amend the 2021-2022 municipal budget to create two new Firefighter/EMS positions. See separate story.

The Council discussed the allocation of space in City Hall and the adjoining City Hall Annex building. The two main issues were the spaces used by the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council and the Sanford-Springvale Chamber of Commerce; and space on the second floor of City Hall that is currently used by the Volunteer Firefighters for storage.

The office space leased to the Chamber is a Main St. storefront in the Annex, for which the Chamber pays $119 a month rent. The City’s Facilities Director, Alex Hammerle, said the space is 3,500 square feet and the City pays the water, sewer, electricity and natural gas for the entire building, of which the pro rata share for the Chamber space works out to $263 a month.

Mayor Mastraccio said the time has come for the Growth Council to have that Main St. space and move out of their less visible space at the back of the building. She said there is a possibility the two organizations could share the space, or the Chamber could move to the space the Growth Council currently occupies. Councilor Stackpole agreed, saying that economic development is at the forefront of the work the City is doing, and should be more visible. He said the Chamber should not be subsidized as if it were an arm of the City, since it is a private entity. Councilors Hanselmann and Martell also voiced their support for a switch.

All were in agreement that the Chamber space needs renovation, as it hasn’t been updated in decades. The consensus was to give the Chamber a year’s notice of the change, so they can find alternative space if they don’t want to switch with the Growth Council.

On the second floor space, there was consensus to move the IT department there. It is currently located in the basement of City Hall. Councilor Hanselmann said she hoped the Volunteer Firefighters’ storage needs could be accommodated elsewhere by the City.

Under Councilor Comments, Mr. Tuttle said he has been getting calls from senior citizens, reporting that Atlantic Broadband is requiring them to sign up for internet service they don’t want, in order to get cable TV. This was not the case in the past. Mr. Buck said it should be examined as to whether that is a violation of their franchise agreement with the City.

Mayor Mastraccio reminded everyone that until the Covid community transmission numbers go back down to “Moderate” levels, the Council will meet via Zoom

Watch the full City Council meeting here.

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