City Council 9/20 Meeting Summary

Hazen Carpenter spoke to the City Council on the history of the Veterans Memorial Gym.

The Sanford City Council met Tuesday, September 20, 2022. All members were present. The minutes of the previous meeting with approved with a minor correction.

Mayor’s Report

Workshops: Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio announced that the City Council and Sanford Housing Authority will hold a joint workshop on Tuesday, September 27 at 6:00 p.m., to discuss with other municipal and county agencies collaborative solutions to housing for all, and initiatives currently taking place to address the housing crisis in our community. On Tuesday, October 25, there will be a workshop on roads, the RAISE grant, and how that grant might affect when your road or street might be repaired, paved or reconstructed. “Please come with your questions and comments and we will do our best to have some answers,” she said. Citizens will be able to participate in both workshops in person and via Zoom, and both will be livestreamed on Town Hall Streams and YouTube, and broadcast on cable channel 26.

Other items: Mayor Mastraccio reported on the dedication of the Stephen Emery Eastman Memorial Park next to the Sanford-Springvale Historical Museum. See that story for details. She also spoke about the 2022 Celebrity Classic softball game on Saturday night, which raised money for the Sanford Police Association’s many charitable endeavors. She worked the concession stand along with Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy and volunteers from the Sanford Mainers.

Subcommittee Reports: Mayor Mastraccio, Councilor Ayn Hanselmann and Councilor Bob Stackpole presented synopses of last week’s Subcommittee meetings. See that story for details.

City Manager’s Report

Police Department Recognition: City Manager Steven Buck reported that Police Chief Craig Andersen was featured in an article on 2022 Innovative Police Leaders in the current issue of Police Magazine. The article highlights some of the major initiatives accomplished through Chief Andersen’s implementation of a decentralized command structure, which he says empowers and engages officers. Read the article online here: https://police.mydigitalpublication.com/articles/sanford-me-police-department.

Fire Department: Mr. Buck also recognized Fire Chief Steve Benotti, who last week hosted a Planning Summit to set direction for the Sanford Fire Department and determine how best to serve the City with fire and EMS services. A full report is being completed for review and presentation. At the close of the Summit Chief Benotti announced his intention to retire in January 2023.

Opioid Settlement: Mr. Buck announced that the City has received its first payment of $37,789.80 in the settlement between the state of Maine and opioid manufacturers and distributors. This is only from the first lawsuit, others are pending. He said at least 20 payments are expected to be received, but still does not have the final accounting of payments and schedule of disbursement. The funds must be used in accordance with an agreement with the Maine Attorney General’s Office but, at a minimum, Mr. Buck hopes it will cover the cost of the SPD’s new licensed clinical social worker.

Communications: The City’s new website is scheduled to launch on Wednesday, September 28. If any issues are encountered, it will launch the following Wednesday instead. The new website is optimized for mobile devices and is more accessible for visually-impaired users. It can translate the entire content of the site into 75 different languages with one click. The website will usher in the City’s new branding, with a new logo and color scheme. It will feature a new drone video highlighting Sanford’s most iconic locations.

Property Tax Stabilization: The Assessing Department has received 609 applications to date for the newly implemented Property Tax Stabilization program for seniors. Anyone at least 65 years old who is a permanent resident of Maine and has owned a Maine homestead for at least ten years may pick up an application at the Assessor’s office in City Hall. The deadline is December 1. Please note that a driver’s license or birth certificate is required to apply.

Communications and Presentations:

Land Bank: Community Development Director Ian Houseal presented his annual report on the activities of the Land Bank Authority. We will have details on this presentation next week.

Sanford Housing Authority: Administrators of the Sanford Housing Authority presented their annual report on the SHA’s activities. We will have details on this presentation next week.

Public Participation

  • Jim Deyermond of Springvale spoke very briefly to ask the Council members to increase the volume on the sound system. He said it was difficult to hear in the back of the room.
  • Main St. resident Zaharias Iliadis spoke to express his concern about the loss of the historical character of Main St., as buildings are being renovated and modernized. He asked that preservation of architectural features be taken into consideration in the City’s Design Review process.
  • Hazen Carpenter presented a history of the Veterans Memorial Gym, which was dedicated in 1950 and rededicated after much-needed renovations in 2000. He said he has challenged his grandchildren to help in preserving the facility and rededicating it in 2050.

Public Hearings

CDBG Grant: A public hearing was held to solicit comments on the Community Enterprise CDBG grant to improve commercial façades in the downtown. Mary Hastings, the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council’s Small Business Advocate, gave a brief introduction. There were no other comments. Under a separate line item, the Council voted to accept the grant of $100,000, which will fund four projects of up to $25,000 each. Although four property owners previously indicated their interest in applying for the funds, Ms. Hastings said there will be an application process that is open to any commercial property in the downtown area. A committee will be formed to review the applications and select the projects to be funded.

Old Business

Urban Zoning Amendments: A second reading was held on the proposed amendments to front yard setback requirements and private way standards in the Urban Zone. The proposal has been discussed at multiple meetings. The Council approved the amendments unanimously.

Goodall Brook Cleanup: The Council voted to accept a grant of $61,871 for Phase III of the Goodall Brook cleanup project. The Department of Public Works is partnering with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the York County Soil and Water Conservation District on the project, which is designed to improve water quality and environmental sustainability. The Sanford Sewerage District, Bauneg Beg Lake Association and Sanford High School students have also participated in the cleanup. Matching funds required for the grant include labor and materials provided by the DPW, which may include a tree box filter constructed as part of the Westside Village reconstruction. Public Works Director Matt described the route of Goodall Brook, which comes off Mount Hope and carries stormwater from the City’s urban neighborhoods before making its way to Bauneg Beg Lake.

Memorial Gym Rental Fees: There was lengthy discussion by the Council on the proposed hourly rental fees for Veterans Memorial Gym. Parks and Rec Director Brady Lloyd presented his “bare bones” proposed fee schedule, and said he plans to reevaluate it and make changes as his department gains more experience with the facility. The Council approved the following hourly fees, for residents / nonresidents:

  • Full Gym (not including stage): $60 / $100
  • Half Gym: $40 / $70
  • Cafeteria (not including the kitchen): $50 / $75
  • Stage: $40 / $70
  • Outside Cafeteria / Concession: $40 / $70
  • Multipurpose Outside Cafeteria (the old band room): $40 / $70
  • Multipurpose 1 Above Lobby: $25 / $40
  • Multipurpose 2 Above Lobby: $25 / $40

Mr. Lloyd said if the rental costs change, any reservations that have already been accepted will be honored at the price that was agreed to. He provided the Council with backup material on other local and southern Maine facilities for comparison.

The Councilors’ main concern was that there are no custodial service charges detailed. Councilor Becky Brink said she would not rent out the building until that is in the contract and there is someone lined up to clean the space after events. Mayor Mastraccio said the contract could be phrased that the custodial charge is to be decided later, but should emphasize that renters are responsible for it. She raised the issue of security as well, and said it might be a good idea to also factor that into a contract. Councilor Mike Termath added that there should be language regarding damages or insurance. Councilor Brink suggested starting with the rental contract that the School Department used for the building, and adapting it to the City’s needs, rather than writing a new one from scratch.

Mr. Buck said the City has been contacted by many organizations looking to rent space, and that they are working with the School Department to partner with them on a combined custodial services agreement for the Memorial Gym and the Willard School next door. He added that the snow removal service for both buildings is already contracted for the upcoming winter season, but that the proportion for each property is still to be figured out. He anticipates having a more detailed rental proposal for the City Council at its next meeting on October 4, and it will be reviewed by the Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee the following week. In the meantime, Mr. Lloyd will be able to start scheduling events, with the understanding that contract terms are still being worked out.

Connecting Trail: The Council voted to authorize Mr. Lloyd to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the City with the Three Rivers Land Trust and the Native Plant Trust to build a connecting trail across private property to connect the Sanford Community Forest and the Harvey Butler Rhododendron Sanctuary off Oak St. See separate story.

Demolition: In separate agenda items, the Council voted to accept the $9,900 low bid or demolition of the house at 38 Jackson St. and the $1,000 low bid for demolition of the garage at 18 Winter St. Following hearings last year, the properties were found by the Council to be Dangerous Buildings under the state definition. Both low bids were submitted by Green Shadow Property Maintenance, LLC, which is the same company that did the demo on the house at 10 Brook St. earlier this year. The price for demolition does not include disposal of the rubble, which will be priced at cost. The City will bill owners of both properties to recover its expenses. If the bills are not paid, they will mature into taxes, then liens, and the properties could eventually be subject to foreclosure. Ian Houseal, Director of Community Development, said the owner of Jackson St. property plans to put the land up for sale after the house is demolished.

Constitution Week: The Council voted to adopt a proclamation in recognition of Constitution Week, celebrating the 235th anniversary of drafting of the United States Constitution.

Assistance to Firefighters Grant: The Council voted to accept a grant of $174,545.45 from the Federal Emergency Management Association for firefighter training. The City will match the grant with $17,454.55 (10%) for a total approved budget of $192,000. Assistant Fire Chief Bob Arnold, who wrote the grant application, said the funds will be used for two types of training. 25% of the budget will go toward Rapid Intervention Team training. This involves having a trained and certified team available for a collapse or other emergency when firefighters are in danger. AC Arnold said a few other area departments have asked Sanford to be that team for them. The SFD has already begun RIT training, but needed the grant funds to complete it. The other 75% of the budget will be for confined space training which is important for firefighters to navigate safely in small spaces when they are carrying a lot of gear. The closest fire department that has this training is Biddeford, meaning there would be a long wait for assistance if a fire needed to be fought in a confined space. AC Arnold said Sanford firefighters are extremely excited to start the training.

Sale of Fire Engine: The Council approved the sale of the SFD’s Engine 2 to the Town of Alfred. Engine 2 becomes surplus this week after the brand new Engine 3 goes into service, and Chief Benotti said the department has no place to store it. The Department already has Engine 4 and Ladder 1 for reserves. The Alfred Selectmen approved the purchase, but it must also be approved at a special town meeting of Alfred voters before the sale can be finalized. The sale price is $12,000, which Chief Benotti noted is at the high end of what the City could get if it put the engine up for bid.

Council Member Comments

  • Councilor Termath reported that the Sanford’s 13-15 year old Babe Ruth team, who are the 2022 State Champions, were honored at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park over the weekend, along with other New England championship teams.
  • Councilor Brink said she attended the Celebrity Classic softball game which was fantastic, and encouraged everyone to attend next year.
  • Councilor Hanselmann volunteered at the Marching Band show at Alumni Stadium on Saturday and said it was great that SHS gives kids from other local schools the opportunity to join the band if their own school doesn’t have one.
  • Deputy Mayor Herlihy reminded everyone that the Springvale Library’s Book Sale is coming up this weekend.
  • Mayor Mastraccio encouraged everyone to read the Sanford Springvale News to find out about all the events coming up in town.

Future Agenda Items

  • Councilor Hanselmann asked if the City could consider addressing the condition of the dock at Number One Pond in next year’s budget.
  • Mayor Mastraccio asked for an update on the trail that was scheduled to be built this year from Breton Ave. to the high school.

The full meeting video may be viewed on Town Hall Streams here and on YouTube here.