Architect’s rendering of the planned Central Park Residences.
By Zendelle Bouchard
The minutes of the Nov. 28 regular meeting and executive sessions were approved. The amended minutes of Nov. 8 were also approved.
Voting locations update: Mayor Becky Brink gave an update on the Council’s discussion about consolidating voting locations. See our previous story. The City is waiting to hear back from the Superintendent of Schools about the feasibility of using Sanford High School and Sanford Middle School. He will be meeting with representatives of the other school districts who send students to Sanford Regional Technical Center to see if they will agree to close the school to students on voting days.
Shooting: She read from the Sanford Police Department’s press release about the shooting that took place on Friday night just before the Holly Daze parade downtown. See our previous story and the Portland Press Herald’s most recent article: https://www.pressherald.com/2023/12/05/sanford-food-truck-operator-says-man-charged-at-him-with-knife/.
Parade: Mayor Brink thanked all the businesses, organizations and City departments that took part in the parade, as well as Santa and Mrs. Claus for the tree lighting.
Fire Stations: She gave a brief snapshot of reasons why the City is proposing to build two new fire stations. She said the two properties which house the existing fire stations are not big enough to expand them, and the existing facilities are unsafe.
City Manager’s Report
Fire Department updates: City Manager Steve Buck reported that he is engaged in impact bargaining with representatives of the Sanford Fire Department related to the changes in City code since the defunding of the Fire Marshal position. They are also looking toward the future implementation of the Community Paramedic position which the Council approved in October (see that story). The City is also proposing to collaborate with York County on a shared Fire Prevention/Public Education Specialist position. The job descriptions, funding and implementation plans will come before the Council before any action is taken.
SS4A survey: Buck announced that the City’s Safe Streets For All (SS4A) survey has gathered 229 responses to date, and they are hoping for a total of 400. The respondents have identified concerns or made suggestions on 93 locations in town related to bicycle safety, 159 for vehicle safety, and 160 for pedestrian safety, as well as 18 for public transit. The survey is available at https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/d04b7a376d044024b8f47554b9c35782. The information from the survey will be used to craft an action plan for future infrastructure projects, utilizing funding from the federal government.
Assessing: Buck reported that the new software used by Assessor Ben Thompson is providing the City with more timely information on the value of new construction, live updates on the TIF district values and more. He said there was $10 million of new construction in Sanford in the last quarter.
Fire station outreach: The City is working on a public education campaign in advance of the referendum vote on the new fire stations. A video will be produced in January breaking the overall issues down into smaller topics.
Mousam Valley Watershed Dam Coalition: He reported on the most recent meeting of the Coalition, where an operating budget of $25,521 and capital program of $13,500 were approved. Sanford pays 50% of the cost of operations, with Acton and Shapleigh splitting the other half. There are unexpended funds in the Coalition’s budget, so no new money will need to be raised.
Public Works update: Public Works Department employees have received training for stress management. East side and west side plowing contractors are in place. All equipment is operational. Using all staff, including transfer station and Parks Department employees, the PWD is still short one plow truck operator. Buck noted this will mean plow routes will take longer to complete.
Homelessness Update: See separate story.
Under the consent agenda, the Council approved licenses for games of chance at the Lafayette Social Club and the Wolves Social Club.
C-PACE: Following a second reading, the Council voted to adopt the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program (C-PACE) ordinance. The program will be administered through Efficiency Maine, and 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.
Public Hearings & New Business
Central Park TIF: Tim Reinken of ReinCorp spoke in favor of proposed amendments to the municipal tax increment financing district for his company’s Central Park Residences project. The project, which will construct 30 one-bedroom apartments on School Street across from Central Park, was originally planned to be all market-rate rentals, but is now planned to include some workforce housing, defined as restricted to renters making 80% of the average median income for York County. This change will allow ReinCorp to get funding from the state. Amendments to the TIF will also allow the City to use some of the tax revenue from the increased property valuation for housing and homelessness programming, as well as for public safety facilities construction. Previously, use of the tax revenue was restricted to economic development and marketing efforts. The Council approved the amendments. See our previous story on the project.
Zoning Changes: See separate story.
Memorial Gym floor covering: The Council voted to approve the purchase of a new floor cover, storage rack and electric winder for the Veterans Memorial Gym at a total cost of $14,992.48. The purchase was approved under last year’s capital improvements budget. It was noted that the old floor cover has gone missing, but that it was in poor condition and a trip hazard anyway.
Mainers contract: The Council voted to enter into a new three-year contract with the Sanford Mainers for the use of Goodall Park beginning in 2024. The per-game fee is being increased to $425 to cover actual costs for staff, but the extra attendance fee is being eliminated to partly balance that increase.
Memorial Gym rental fees: After lengthy discussion, the Council could not come to agreement on full-facility rental fees for the Gym. Some businesses and organizations that want to rent the Gym balked at the proposed increase to $1,800 per day, with discounts for multiple-day events. Parks and Recreation Director Brady Lloyd was asked to do some more research on other facilities in the area. Springvale resident Chris Farwell, who manages events for the City of Portland, said in his opinion the proposed pricing is extremely fair. He recommended that Sanford charge separate rates for for-profit and non-profit organizations, rather than having one set rate and then letting certain users pay only cleaning costs. Farwell also said the City would have no trouble renting out the Gym if it is promoted a little better. He was invited to join the Recreation Advisory Board.
Ronald Garvin of the Southern Maine Scale Modelers came before the Council to request that his organization be added to the list of free users for the Gym. The group puts on a model show that is free for kids to enter or attend. Modelers from all over the country and Canada attend. It is also a money maker for the local organization or business that does the catering. The Council voted to allow the Modelers to use the Gym for $1,200 for 2024, as a final decision on pricing has not been made. The show will take place April 14.
Laurie Gaudreau of the Maine Attraction Water Ski Show Team came before the Council with a similar request for her organization. They need a place to practice in the winter, as well as a location for their St. Patrick’s Day Dance on March 16, which is their primary fundraiser. Unfortunately, the Gym is already being used on weeknights, but the Council compromised by approving the use of the café downstairs. Gaudreau said that would work for some of their practices, although the ceiling is too low for practicing stunts. The Council also voted to allow the use of the full facility for the fundraiser for $600, since they will only be using it for six hours instead of a full day.
Council Member Comments
Councilor Bob Stackpole recommended residents look at the Garbage to Garden website for some green holiday gift ideas, and also offered two large composters which he no longer uses for free to anyone who wants them.
Councilor Ayn Hanselmann expressed her concern that only one of Sanford’s schools currently has over 50% of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, which may impact state funding for the schools as well as grants to organizations including the Sanford Backpack Program. She encouraged any parent or guardian of a student who hasn’t filled out the paperwork to do so.