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Subcommittee News: September 2023

Sanford Sewerage District office at 281 River St.

Photo credit: Google

By Zendelle Bouchard

The City Council’s Subcommittees met September 12, 2023 to discuss various items of City business.

Municipal Operations & Property Subcommittee

281 River St.: The Sanford Sewerage District plans to build a new headquarters in three to four years at the wastewater treatment facility off Gavel Road, and wants to sell its current offices at 281 River St. to the City for $400,000 as new headquarters for the Parks and Recreation Department. City Manager Steve Buck said a new home for Parks & Rec has been on the drawing board for many years, and, under former Director Marcel Blouin, spending that amount just to purchase land was considered. Parks and Rec Director Brady Lloyd told Subcommittee members that his department is inefficient due to not having a central operations location. Parks vehicles are currently stored at the Public Works yard on School St., and his staff loses an hour a day in the winter retrieving vehicles and then putting them away again at night. Buck commended the Sewerage District Board of Trustees for their public-mindedness, noting there is competition from other interested parties for the property. He said the City will have the next few years to plan and budget for the purchase. A Memorandum of Understanding on the purchase will come before the City Council on September 19.

High St. Reconstruction: Public Works Director Matt Hill reported that he has applied to MaineDOT for funding for full reconstruction of the portion of High Street between Washington Street and North Avenue. If approved, this project would be done in 2025. He said he would like to include work around the Heritage Crossing parking lot to increase visibility there and make it safer for the public. In addition, he is proposing to extend the planned Mousam Promenade around Number One Pond to Heritage Crossing by widening the sidewalk to 10’ and changing it from concrete to asphalt to match the rest of the Promenade. All agreed these improvements would be welcome. He will report back when he knows if state funding will be awarded.

Sanford Connects Website: Communications Coordinator Jordan Wilson gave Subcommittee members a preview of the new Sanford Connects community engagement software which will enable residents to have more input on large projects the City is undertaking. The first few projects will be the new Fire Stations and the RAISE grant downtown reconstruction projects. Wilson will have a more in-depth presentation at the City Council meeting on September 19, so look for more details in next week’s City Council report.

Parks & Rec Fees: Subcommittee members agreed to a proposal to increase pickleball fees from $4 to $5 per session, and the adult basketball drop-in fee from $3 to $4 per session. Parks & Rec Director Lloyd said this would be more in line with what other communities are charging, and would raise much-needed funds to offset the cost of operating the Memorial Gym. The Subcommittee also agreed on the list of civic organizations that may rent the Gym at a reduced rate. The full Council will vote on the proposal next week.

Health Officer: City Manager Buck said he will recommend to the Council that the City appoint Fire Chief Scott Susi as Public Health Officer, to replace Dr. William Frank who has submitted his resignation. Buck said the Chief is already certified with the state as a Public Health Officer, having served in that capacity for the town of Caribou. Assistant Chief Rick Smith would be trained and certified as a backup. Buck said health issues the City comes across are often identified by Codes or EMS with issues like hoarding, mold etc. Subcommittee members all agreed.

Zoning Subcommittee

Food Trucks: The Zoning Subcommittee discussed possible changes to the ordinance governing the operation of food trucks in Sanford. The current ordinance requires food trucks be set up at least 150 feet from a restaurant. Counselor Ayn Hanselmann requested this discussion as she has heard from the owner of Mill Towne Tavern that he would like to have a food truck set up in the lower Midtown Mall. He is not always able to staff his kitchen and is not allowed by law to sell alcohol unless food is also available. Mary Hastings, Small Business Advocate with the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council, said locally-owned food trucks are being courted by other communities that provide dedicated parking spots and power connections. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy noted that food trucks bring more dining options to residents, especially on Mondays when many restaurants are closed. She said food trucks also provide entrepreneurs with a way to get started in the business with a lower investment and less risk. City Manager Buck suggested City staff look at a map and find places where the food trucks could have designated parking spots with electrical hookups, and be charged rent to cover the cost of the electricity. All agreed this was a good approach. Any proposal will come back to the Subcommittee before going forward to the full Council.

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