by Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio
(Delivered live on WSSR-TV at Candidates Night, October 7.)
Good evening, I am Anne-Marie Mastraccio, and I am honored to serve as your Mayor.
2021 turned out to be, unfortunately, more pandemic and less recovery than we were all hoping for. Just when we thought things were about to get better, we were faced with the Delta variant and a return to more stringent public health recommendations. In spite of that, I have great things to report tonight. Our community has demonstrated a resilience that makes me proud. Students, who are entering their third school year in which Covid is a factor, are back in school full time. Municipal and school employees have surpassed expectations and kept our government and schools operational and functioning. I am happy to tell you we are thriving in so many unexpected, but welcome ways.
It can be easy to lose sight of all that has been accomplished when times are difficult. Tonight my goal is to highlight some of our successes and remind us how far we have come, in spite of the challenges we are continuing to face. We completed multiple school construction, addition and renovation projects that consolidated our student population in 3, pre-K-4, schools, a middle school for grades 5-8 and a state of the art High School and Regional Technical Center. This was the culmination of many years of planning for a time when all of our students would have equitable opportunities and facilities, no matter where in Sanford they lived. We did this with approximately 133 million dollars of state money and 20 million dollars from Sanford taxpayers. And I repeat, our kids are back in school full time!
We have made tremendous progress on our roadway capital improvement program funded and approved by the voters in November 2019. This 6.2 million dollar bond is continuing to leverage state and federal funds, extending our ability to do more with fewer local dollars. Here is a list of road projects completed or in process subsequent to that approval (and I’m going to go through this list because I read a lot on Facebook about how we’ve not done anything):
Whichers Mill Road, Stanley Road, Stebbins Road, Main Street from Farview to Old Mill Road, Lebanon Street from Main Street to Cranberry Ridge, Twombley Road from Old Mill to Kimball Street, Oak Street from Main Street to Urban Compact Line, Hanson Ridge Road from the CL to Deering Neighborhood, Country Club Road #3, State Court, Guillemette Street, Blanchard Road, Sunset Road, Sacapee Road, Old Mill Road, Main Street from Lebanon to Emery, Washington Avenue, New Dam Road, Grammar Street/Grammar Ave, Emerson Street, Park Street, Pearl Street, Shawmut Avenue, Grant Street, Hemlock Drive, Railroad Avenue, Lucerne Street, Whipple Street, Highland Street, Greenaway Avenue, Stoneybrook Road, Oak Ridge Road and Mount Hope Road. And we’re currently working on the Westside Village project of Kimball Street, Prescott Street, Shaw Street and Twombley Road, and we’ll continue into next year and hopefully will begin the full reconstruction and the Mousam Promenade.
I’m really proud of all the work that Public Works has accomplished in the last 18 months.
The City Council has shown a commitment to maintaining and improving our parks, green spaces and multi-use trails. Holdsworth Park and the Springvale Recreation area underwent a much needed improvement, Benton Park will have a new young child playground and a task force was convened to examine trail use and make recommendations to the City Council.
A new Police Chief was hired who is committed to community policing and has initiated a Citizens Advisory Group. And we now have a behavioral health unit embedded within the department, as well as officers focused on our unhoused and senior residents.
The Airport solar project went live November 16, 2020 and began supplying power to the New England grid.
Improvements to the Midtown Mall are underway and signal a council commitment to downtown improvement efforts spearheaded by the Friends of Downtown, a very active group of volunteers.
The Sanford Springvale Regional Economic Growth Council was reorganized to better focus business attraction efforts and a small business advocate position was created to address small business needs. The Council also created a City Communications Director position. We recognize that there is a need for better communication both within our organization and with the community at large and we are doing something about it.
Progress is continuing to be made on the improvement of our older housing stock and local builders are constructing much needed multi-family market rate housing. TPD Construction completed Austin Place at the roundabout and has been approved for another building at the same location. ReinCorp was approved and will break ground in the spring for a 30-unit housing complex located in our downtown, across from Central Park.
Single family home values went up significantly and indicate an increased interest in Sanford as a place to live. For example, Sanford is Maine’s top municipality for housing civilian shipyard employees, with 524 employees, and had the highest payroll, representing nearly 39 million dollars coming into our community on an annual basis.
Summer Commons opened in May of this year, replacing an aging, outdated Newton Center. This 64 bed skilled nursing facility and its 30 bed memory care unit will serve our residents for many years to come.
We have a much needed local newspaper. The Sanford Springvale News, available on line and in print, has begun to fill the void left by the demise of the Sanford News and the Journal Tribune.
The pandemic funding the City received enabled an upgrade to our video technology equipment in City Hall Chambers. Public meetings of the City Council and the School Committee, in person or otherwise, will continue to be available by zoom, live streamed, on cable access channels and the WSSR-TV YouTube channel. This will ensure greater transparency and public access to local government.
Comcast Cable negotiated a franchise agreement with the City. They are beginning their build out and will soon offer residents another option for cable internet and tv service.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that our Airport is one of the busiest in the state, is continuing to grow and is operating in the black.
I could go on, but you get the idea. We have not been standing still, waiting for normal to return. And I promise that your City Council will continue to work collaboratively on issues and solutions that we believe will make Sanford an even better place to live and work.
Thank you for listening, I hope you find Candidates Night informative and helpful.