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City Council Meeting Summary May 21

Jeff Roble is sworn in after being promoted to Lieutenant Paramedic

Jeff Roblee is sworn in after being promoted to Lieutenant Paramedic

Credit: City of Sanford

By Renée Morin

The City Council met Tuesday May 21, 2024, for its regular meeting. All members were in attendance.

Mayor’s Report/City Council Sub-Committee Reports

Mayor Becky Brink began the meeting with a brief history of Memorial Day. She followed this by expressing gratitude for the work that has been done by the Homeless Task Force.

Reporting for the Hazardous Waste Sub-committee, Councilor Robert Stackpole said that a household hazardous waste cleanup day will be held on June 30 from 9 am to noon.

City Manager’s Report

Sanford has received two grants from the Environmental Protection Agency. A $500,000 assessment grant is to be used in the historic millyard for assessing environmental sites in the area and preparing four sites for cleanup. A $5,000,000 cleanup grant will be used at the International Woolen Mill boiler house on Pioneer Ave. The cleanup will remove hazardous materials from the boiler house, such as volatile organic compounds, inorganic contaminants, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic compounds, and light nonaqueous phase liquid.

A PBS documentary is in the works which centers around the arrival of asylum seekers in Maine with Sanford being a specific focal point as a city and community that organized a regional response.

May 5, 2023, saw the unanticipated arrival of asylum seekers to Sanford. The success in establishing an organized response to the event has been studied, with the city’s actions being adopted by Community Action Corporations across the state “as a case of best practices to adopt if experienced in another new area within Maine.” Maine Public Brodcasting has also interviewed city staff about the event over the past year.

Although Sanford has reached its capacity to address the large influx of people, it continues to actively work towards integration of the new Mainer population into our region.

New educational material about the November Fire Station Referendum will be showcased at the June 4 City Council meeting. The materials will include educational slogans, informational flyers, updates to Informational videos, an ad campaign and site renderings for a future unveiling ceremony. A “cup of coffee campaign,” which will measure the building costs for the new fire stations, and the possibility of minute-long informational videos to be shown at Smitty’s Cinema are other options being considered.

The Southern Maine Agency on Aging has signed a new lease for the Anderson Learning Center. The SMAA will offer adult day programming, along with Meals on Wheels, Medicare counseling, case management and support group services.

Homelessness Update

The Homeless Task Force is currently working on changes in Sanford’s unhoused population stemming from the warming weather, such as individuals moving into encampments and becoming increasingly visible. To address the issue, Sanford Police have deployed officers on bikes and on foot to build trust between officers and unhoused individuals. The hope is to encourage unhoused individuals to accept assistance services available to them.

Notice has been given to the inhabitants concerning the impending closing of the Heritage Crossing encampment before June 15. According to City Manager Buck, “coordinated entry, case management, and housing navigation have all been extended to the individuals currently occupying this unhealthy and unsafe environment, with placements to date being limited to those individuals who are willing to take services.”

Further actions to be taken regarding the encampment have been found to be in compliance with federal standards, specifically “19 Strategies for Communities to Address Encampments Humanely and Effectively” which was released by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. The Action Plan will be implemented in two weeks’ time.

Coordination between multiple agencies assisting the unhoused community has seen significant results according to Buck, with time and resources being saved and agencies making the best use of existing resources.

Buck met with Maine State Housing representatives to discuss how available funds can benefit the City of Sanford. The city’s current shelter system did not receive the funds it needs from the state, necessitating creative means to cover the current 1-million-dollar shortfall. Funding for street outreach workers has also been identified as a necessity.

An agreement with the York County Shelter Program to access emergency shelter space at a reduced cost, along with providing necessary ancillary service of meals and case management, will be coming before the City Council soon.

A request was made by Mayor Becky Brink for residents wishing to help Sanford’s unhoused population to refrain from distributing food and clothing to individuals. The worry is that such actions will discourage unhoused individuals from accepting housing assistance. Citizens wishing to help can assist with distributing resources through the proper channels.

Communications/Presentations

Following the retirement of Lt. Steve Ouellette from the Sanford Fire Department, Firefighter/Paramedic Jeff Roblee has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Paramedic.

See the separate story from the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council’s presentation.

New Business

Personnel in the Building and Codes Department and Municipal Constables were reappointed for the coming year.

The Council authorized the acceptance of grants.

The Council accepted an engineering proposal for inspection and repair to the Goodall Dam and an architect’s proposal for work at Carpentier Park.

City Manager Buck has been chosen to represent Sanford on the Maine Municipal Association Legislative Policy Committee from July 2024 through June 2026. Mayor Brink has been appointed as his alternate if needed.

The Council approved the appointees to Sanford’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. Appointees that were previously removed from the committee because of a desire to limit participation to one person per household were restored and the disqualifier was lifted.

Council Member Comments

Councilors had a lengthy debate as to whether it was appropriate to fly the Pride Flag at City Hall during Pride Month. It was approved with Councilor Jonathan Martell voting against it citing religious reasons.

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