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At the Sanford City Council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, October 6, the following items were presented or discussed:

  • City Clerk Sue Cote gave the Council an update on voting and the preparations for the election. She reported that the drop box for absentee ballots has been installed and is under 24 hour camera surveillance, with a motion detector that sends her an alert. Footage will be recorded and forwarded to the Police Department if there is any suspicious activity. She told the Council that in-person absentee voting has already begun, and is being conducted in the Council Chambers. Hours for voting will be extended as the election draws closer. She reminded absentee voters to make sure the envelope is sealed and signed.
  • The Council approved a Municipal Tax Increment Financing District for the Summer Commons Senior Care Facility which is now under construction. Summer Commons will replace the Newton Center when it opens next spring.
  • The Council voted to accept a grant of $159,540 from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, to pay expenses incurred due to Covid-19, related to the upcoming election. City Clerk Sue Cote plans to use the funds to purchase new stand-alone voting booths and sturdier stanchions to accommodate social distancing, as well as pay for additional staffing and signage.
  • The Council voted to close the City Clerk’s office to all non-election business on Election Day, November 3. City Manager Steven Buck noted that in a typical election year the office is inundated, and this year is expected to have an unprecedented level of work to do, handling new voter registrations and absentee ballots.
  • The Council voted to authorize the expenditure of $24,575 for tennis court resurfacing, installation of basketball hoops, and marking of lines for both sports at Springvale Playground. This will be a major upgrade to the park, which will enable the courts to be maintained with minor resurfacing every 3-4 years. Mr. Buck reported that the quote was lower than the Parks and Recreation Department anticipated, and that the work is expected to be completed this fall.
  • The Council approved the purchase of a new 10-wheeled snow plow with wing dump truck for the Public Works Department. The Maine DOT VW Grant Program will pay for 60% of the purchase price, with the remaining 40% paid for by the city. Public Works Director Matt Hill said the new truck will meet emissions standards and mean less maintenance for the department going forward.
  • The Council approved the expenditure of $120,883 to build a retaining wall with improved seating and new stairs for Holdsworth Park (a/k/a Springvale Rec). The improvements are needed because stormwater runoff is eroding the beach there. The work is expected to be done before winter.
  • The Council voted to reopen Sanford’s parks and recreational facilities, which had been closed due to the Covid-19 outbreaks. See separate story.
  • Councilor Ayn Hanselmann commended WSSR-TV and the candidates for local office for the great job on the Candidates Night videos. Mayor Tom Cote noted the videos will be shown on Channel 26 at 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. until Election Day, unless there are live meetings to cover.
  • Councilor Lucas Lanigan said that although Parks and Recreation Director Alan Grady has resigned and moved on, the Rec Advisory Committee is moving ahead and has some new projects in the planning stages.
  • Councilor Maura Herlihy reported she has received complaints about Atlantic Broadband being nonresponsive to customers, and said the Council will be looking into it. She also expressed concern about the high turnover among Public Works Department employees, and inquired whether exit interviews, or third party assessment, might uncover the reasons.
  • Mayor Tom Cote requested the Municipal Property Subcommittee look into the need for the Police Department’s armored transport vehicles. He said he and other city officials met earlier this summer with representatives of the Black Lives Matter movement, who expressed concern about them, and that he continues to receive inquiries about whether the vehicles are really necessary.
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