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City Council Meeting Summary: June 6, 2023

Members of the Sanford Police Department’s Mental Health Unit at the Maine Police Chief’s Association Awards Banquet. L to R: OPTIONS Clinician Lacey Bailey, Acting Sgt. Colleen Adams, MHU First Responder Shannon Bentley, Ofc. Mike Gordon. 

The Sanford City Council met June 6, 2023. Councilor Bob Stackpole was absent with notice. All other members were present. 

There was no Mayor’s Report. 

City Manager’s Report 

Legislative Update: City Manager Steve Buck gave an update on the state budget and other legislation that impacts Sanford. See separate story

River Street Reconstruction: Mr. Buck reported that Levesque Construction started work on River St. May 31, and is currently working on the section between High St. and Cottage St. He said that rather than trying to maintain one-way traffic, as is often done on road reconstruction projects, the company is closing the road one block at a time. That allows traffic to detour around each block and allows local businesses to stay open. Levesque is coordinating with Ledgemere Transportation and the transportation department of York County Community Action to allow services to continue while construction is ongoing. 

Construction Inspector: The City has a viable candidate for the newly created position of Construction Inspector, who will be interviewed next week. Mr. Buck said the candidate is a recent graduate of UMaine’s engineering program. 

Pedestrian Safety Grant: Mr. Buck announced that Assistant City Engineer Matthew Provencher is finalizing his submission for the Maine Department of Transportation’s Heads Up Pedestrian Safety initiative. The City was awarded a $60,000 grant from this program last year. Once the state signs off on the plans, the funds will be used to improve signage and crosswalks in various locations around the City. Mr. Buck expects the work to be done this year. 

Safe Streets For All: The Public Works Department has put out an RFP (Request For Proposal) for engineering services to do a comprehensive safety analysis on Sanford’s streets, intersections and pedestrian crossings. A $200,000 federal grant for this project was awarded to the City last year. Once this analysis is done and priorities are assigned, the City can apply for additional federal funds for reconstruction projects. Mr. Buck said the Grammar St. / Grammar Rd. intersection would top the list. The City had previously identified three intersections on Route 4 as top priorities, but those are already in the design process thanks to the relationship the City has established with the Maine Department of Transportation. There will be an opportunity for public comment and engagement in the process. 

General Assistance: Mr. Buck announced that Randy White, Director of General Assistance for Sanford, has resigned. Mr. White started with the City as a police officer 30 years ago and has been GA Director for the past 13 years. Mr. Buck called him a “tremendous asset” to the City and said his professional administration will be sorely missed. 

The current number of asylum-seeking families in Sanford has held steady at 28. However, Mr. Buck said their emergency short-term housing assistance is nearing an end. They will still qualify for general assistance for an extended period (as do other unhoused individuals), but the cost of renting a hotel room far exceeds the monthly housing allowance per family. York County Community Action has assigned housing navigators to the families to seek out more cost-effective housing options. At least ten of the 28 families have identified longer-term housing placements.  

Hay Brook Bridge: The Town of Alfred is moving ahead with the process of discontinuing Stone Rd., which is on its side of the Hay Brook Bridge. The Bridge (technically classified as a “minor span”) was ordered closed by the state of Maine in October 2022 due to deterioration. The City of Sanford repeatedly tried to get the Town of Alfred to pay its share of the repair costs, but Alfred voters refused to appropriate the funds. Alfred Selectmen held a public hearing last month, at which Sanford Public Works Director Matt Hill presented the City’s legal position and requested that Sanford be recognized as an abutter to recoup damages. Alfred voters will decide on June 13 whether to uphold the Selectmen’s order to discontinue the road. 

Communications and Presentations 

Mental Health Unit Recognized: Police Chief Craig Andersen announced that the Sanford Police Department’s Mental Health Unit was recognized with an award at the Maine Chiefs of Police Association Awards Banquet on May 18. Officer Colleen Adams, Officer Mike Gordon, OPTIONS Clinician Lacey Bailey and Mental Health First Responder Shannon Bentley all attended and received plaques. Chief Andersen briefly highlighted some of the accomplishments of the MHU and stressed that they were due to teamwork within the Department, with other City Departments, as well as the Wells PD which allows Ms. Bailey to work out of the SPD. Mr. Buck echoed his comments. Ofc. Adams (now Acting Sergeant) posed for a photo with her two daughters. 

Public Participation: none 

Public Hearings 

Medical Cannabis: A public hearing was held on the renewal application for Top Cut Cultivation LLC for a medical cannabis grower/cultivator license at 12 Smada Dr. No one spoke in favor or against. The renewal was granted without comment under the Consent Agenda. 

Above & Beyond: Also under the Consent Agenda, two off-premises licenses were granted for Above & Beyond Catering to serve alcohol at the Sanford Mainers games on June 9 and June 28. 

Revenue Bonds: A public hearing was held on a resolution to authorize the City to issue revenue bonds in the amount of $1.11M. Springvale resident Dianne Connolly asked if this is the same type of bond that the Council may approve without going to voters, capped at $1M. Mr. Buck replied that this is a different type of bond. Later in the meeting, Attorney Jim Saffian, representing York County Community Action, clarified that the bond in question is not a liability of the City of Sanford but of YCCAC, which is responsible for repaying it. To qualify for a lower interest rate, the bond must be issued by a public entity, so the City serves that function, but it is a pass-through structure. No taxpayer funds are involved. The bonds will replace the ones that were issued ten years ago. The Council approved authorizing the bonds. 

Old Business 

Contract Zone: The Council unanimously approved a Contract Zone agreement with the developers of the former Nasson Dormitories, which are being converted into apartments. The Council approved rezoning the property to Urban at its May 2 meeting. Because Urban zoning allows most types of commercial uses, including large-scale operations, the Contract Zone agreement protects neighboring residents by limiting the type and size of commercial development that will be allowed on the property. 

New Business 

SSDC: The Council voted to appoint Councilor Nate Hitchcock as its representative to the Sanford Springvale Development Corporation. The Appointments Subcommittee will review the qualifications of other interested applicants before the Council makes any further appointments. The SSDC was originally founded many years ago to manage the former Nasson College Campus property in Springvale. Anderson Learning Center (ALC) is now the only one of those buildings owned by the City, so the Board that is being reassembled will have ALC’s management as its main focus. 

Arts Commission: The Council appointed Holly L. Gooch to the Sanford Arts Commission. Ms. Gooch is a metalworker and jeweler who lives in Sanford. She has experience organizing art shows and participating in art walks in other communities. Mayor Becky Brink said the Arts Commission needs to develop a set of bylaws before any more members are appointed. 

Airport Fencing: The Council voted to accept a bid from H.A. Stone & Sons in the amount of $61,857.50 to install 1,127’ of fencing on the west side of the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport along Gatehouse Rd. Airport Manager Allison Navia said funds were budgeted and approved a few years ago, but the fencing was not needed at that time due to a delay in getting the ten-unit hangar built. Construction on the hangar will begin this month. The contractor was not interested in removing the old fence, so Airport staff will do that themselves. 

MMA: The Council reviewed the proposed slate of nominations for the Executive Committee of the Maine Municipal Association. The nominees are from the towns of Gray, Weld and Jay. 

Rules of Procedure Changes: See separate story

Rail Trail: After some discussion, the Council voted to add the Sanford Rail Trail to the City’s linear park system, which also includes the Mousam Way Trail System. See separate story

Councilor Comments 

  • Councilor Ayn Hanselmann congratulated the Class of 2023, who graduated this week. She also gave kudos to those students who were recognized at last week’s Spring Sports Banquet. 
  • Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne noted the passing of his childhood friend Steve Lincourt and expressed his condolences to the family. 
  • Councilor Nate Hitchcock invited everyone to come to the Sanford Mainers’ opening night game on June 9 at Goodall Park. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy noted that the new concessions manager has added warm chocolate chip cookies to the menu. 

The full City Council meeting may be viewed on YouTube here and on Town Hall Streams here

The next regularly scheduled City Council meeting will be held Tuesday, June 20. 

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