by Jordan Wilson
The City Council’s Public Safety Subcommittee met July 11, 2023. The members of the Subcommittee are Councilor Ayn Hanselmann (chair), Mayor Becky Brink and Councilor Jonathan Martell.
In June, the Department of Public Works and WGME received a letter of concern from a Resident regarding sidewalk and crosswalk conditions. Included in the letter was a list of suggestions for intersections in need of attention by the City Public Works, “as soon as possible.” The City of Sanford has projects in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE), Safe Streets for All (SS4A), the MaineDOT Heads-Up Pedestrian Safety, the Municipal Roadway Capital Improvement Program, and MPI programs to address 15 of the 16 locations noted in the list. The comments have been received by the City of Sanford and Maine Department of Transportation and have been incorporated into the Public Record for the projects. Below are the intersections and the corresponding projects aimed at resolving the issues:
Intersections of Concern (with Construction Year in Parenthesis):
- Brook Street and Cottage Street- RAISE Grant (2026-2030)
- Brook Street and River Street- River Street Reconstruction (2023)
- June Street and Cottage Street- RAISE Grant (2026-2030)
- North Avenue and Cottage Street- RAISE Grant (2026-2030)
- North Avenue and High Street- Heads Up Pedestrian Grant (2023-2024)
- Winter Street and Riverside Ave- RAISE Grant (2026-2030)
- Intersection of River Street, Winter Street, and Cottage Street- RAISE Grant (2026-2030)
- Washington Street and Pioneer Avenue- RAISE Grant (2026-2030)
- Downtown near 901 Main Street- RAISE Grant (2026-2030)
- High Street and Washington Street- RAISE Grant (2026-2030)
- Crosswalks on Main Street from Sanford to Springvale – Heads Up Pedestrian Grant (2023-2024)
Sidewalks of Concern (with Construction Year in Parenthesis):
- Washington Street Sidewalk Near Gateway Park- RAISE Grant (2026-2030)
- Main Street at Washington Street- RAISE Grant (2026-2030)
- North Avenue- No set plan at the present time as the RAISE Grant (2026-2030) will be trenching on North Avenue to construct a drainage line from Route 202/Cottage Street to an outfall near the Mousam River
- River Street- River Street Reconstruction (2023)
- Paved Trail System on Oscar Emery Drive- RAISE Grant (2026-2030)
Public Safety concerns should be forwarded to the Department of Public Works or the appropriate Municipal Department using the respective contact information provided at sanfordmaine.org. It should also be noted that the forthcoming Safe Streets for All (SS4A) program will be performing significant amounts of community engagement in the coming months, with an emphasis on receiving feedback from those that are underserved by the Public transportation system. The study will result in a substantive Action Plan presented to the City Council for acceptance to eliminate accidents that result in serious injury or fatality. More information on the SS4A Program and upcoming Public engagement, please visit the City-Wide Projects on the City Website.
Assistant Chief Smith provided an update from the Fire Department, focusing on call volume and incidents. In June, the SFD (Sanford Fire Department) responded to a total of 328 calls for service, with the Sanford Station responding to 219 calls and the Springvale Station responding to 109 calls. Among these calls, approximately 79% were related to emergency medical services (EMS). During the first six months of 2023, the SFD experienced an 11.8% increase in overlapping calls compared to the same period in 2022, amounting to 320 additional overlapping incidents. However, despite this rise in overlapping calls, the overall increase in total calls for the period was only 110. The SFD handles an average increase of approximately 100 calls per year, with around 75-80% of these calls being EMS-related incidents. The number of overlapping calls continues to rise, indicating a growing demand for resources. Smith emphasized the need for additional committed resources, stating, “With more total calls and more simultaneous incidents, the Department requires increased support.” Smith also noted that there are some changes occurring in some neighboring fire departments staffing and administration and is unsure at the moment how this would affect the SFD.
Mental Health Unit Updates: Sergeant Colleen Adams and Mental Health First Responder Shannon Bentley provided an update to the committee regarding the Mental Health Unit (MHU) and the current state of homelessness in the City of Sanford. Thus far in 2023, the MHU has encountered 122 unique reports of homelessness, whereas in the entirety of 2022, there were 107 such reports. Out of the 122 individuals, 92 are believed to be living outdoors or in vehicles, including 5 known children. In the month of June alone, the MHU responded to 115 calls, with 40 of those being follow-up calls and 30 pertaining to individuals experiencing homelessness. Housing is a major need, and people are running out of options. Sergeant Adams mentioned that the Fire Department is applying for a paramedicine grant that will help address medical issues in the unhoused community. The MHU fully supports the grant and is assisting in providing needed data.
Liquor Enforcement Update: Major Mark Dyer reported that on Wednesday, June 28th, the Maine Sheriffs Association (MSA) conducted unannounced, random liquor inspections in York County. These inspections covered off-premise liquor licensees and cocktails-to-go licensees. A total of 18 facilities in Sanford/Springvale were inspected, and out of those, 16 successfully passed the inspection.
Crisis Intervention Stress Management (CISM) and Wellness and Resiliency: Shannon Bentley, a Social Worker and member of the Mental Health Unit (MHU), discussed how the PD and MHU prioritize the well-being and resilience of first responders. They achieve this by ensuring and promoting the wellness of employees through various means, including trauma-informed leadership, fostering a culture of wellness, mental health training, peer and family support systems, police chaplaincy, counseling, and a critical incident stress management (CISM) program. The PD is actively working towards enhancing and expanding this program to provide better support for our first responders. The committee was introduced to some of these concepts as an initial step towards future developments in officer wellness.
Bureau of Highway Safety Grants: Major Mark Dyer informed the subcommittee that the Police Department (PD) will be applying for a Speed Enforcement Grant in Fiscal Year 2023-2024. The PD will provide the committee with details on the benefits of accepting this grant when it is presented to the full council at a later date.