Four of the City Council’s Subcommittees met February 14, 2023.
Municipal Operations and Property
Mayor Becky Brink, Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy and Councilor Ayn Hanselmann are the members of this Subcommittee
Airport Land Lease: A proposal to temporarily lease a portion of the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport to Northern Maine Community College was discussed. Airport Manager Allison Navia said the FAA allows temporary leases for parts of the property that has no immediate demand for aeronautical uses. The section in question, about 376’ x 175’ of pavement, is the southwest ramp near the back of the industrial park off Baker Ln. It has been leased in the past for a laydown area for construction equipment. NMCC will use the area for 5-6 weeks for a commercial drivers’ license training program. Subcommittee members were in favor of the proposal, with Councilor Hanselmann noting the high demand for drivers with commercial licenses. This item will go forward to the full City Council.
Roundabout Redesign: Seth Kimball of Aceto Landscape Architects presented his conceptual plan for a redesign of the roundabout in South Sanford. The plan is for aesthetic improvements only – there will be no changes to the roadway or anything to do with vehicular movements. He called the roundabout “a significant gateway” that welcomes visitors to Sanford, which is currently “a mishmash of unsuccessful plantings and a maintenance nightmare.” His design was inspired by Sanford’s history as a textile manufacturing center, and includes brightly colorful curved bands of steel meant to evoke lengths of fabric or yarn, depending on the angle from which they are viewed. The central island would be planted with trees and an aggressive ground cover that will not need watering once it is established. The design meets all safety standards for sight lines. Mr. Kimball recommends the same plantings for the islands between the lanes of traffic leading to and from the roundabout, which are currently paved and painted green.
Subcommittee members and staff all had positive comments about the design. Water District Superintendent David Parent noted that, if constructed, it would be the first publicly funded art installation in the city. There was discussion about lighting options, as well an automated watering system that would be used until the plantings are established.
Finance Director Ronni Lynn Champlin expressed concern that the sidewalk surrounding the central island would encourage people to try to walk over to the island. Public Works Director Matt Hill said the intention was that it would be “attractive enough to draw the eye, but not attractive enough for a kid to want to go out there and run their skateboard over it.” He said his office is working with the Maine Department of Transportation on pedestrian concerns at the roundabout. He said the existing sidewalk was a compromise that was developed when the roundabout was originally designed. The proposal will go forward to the full Council on February 21 for their feedback.
Arts Agreement: The Subcommittee reviewed a proposed Memorandum of Agreement with the Arts Collaborative of Sanford, which would allow them to host arts events in Sanford in partnership with the City. Brett Williams, Director of the Sanford Performing Arts Center, said they hope to have a few indoor and outdoor arts events a year, as well as a downtown art walk similar to what is done in Portland and other communities. Carrie Clock, another ACS member, said the group would like to hold the art walk on the second Friday evening of each month from May through September.
A representative from the Maine Municipal Association was on hand to discuss the various options for liability insurance, which was the main concern. She said the events could only be covered under the City’s insurance if the City has full control of them by establishing an Arts Committee. Another option is for the Arts Collaborative to become its own legal nonprofit entity. In the short term, she recommended the ACS purchase insurance for individual events under the Tenant User Liability Insurance Program (TULIP), which would allow them to move forward with events while the Arts Committee is being set up. David Parent, who is an artist when he’s not busy running the Water District, drafted the MOA but said the group is very flexible and open to any option that will help get arts off the ground in Sanford. “We are hoping to light a spark that will become a bonfire,” he said.
Public Safety Subcommittee
Members: Councilor Hanselmann (chair), Mayor Brink and Councilor Jonathan Martell.
Streetlight Request: Public Works Director Matt Hill presented a request from a resident for a new streetlight at the intersection of Lebanon St. and Joffre St. The resident said Joffre St. is difficult to find at night. Mr. Hill said the intersection meets the criteria for a streetlight, but there is a complication because there is no pole at that location. He noted while the intersection is dark, there have not been any motor vehicle accidents recorded there. Ian Houseal, Sanford’s Director of Community Development, said there is a long wait time for Central Maine Power to install new streetlights. Councilor Martell said the street sign is set back from the road and suggested moving the sign to where it would be easier to spot. Mr. Hill and the other Subcommittee members agreed this was a good idea. The PWD will relocate the sign, but the location will be kept on the list for possible future streetlight installation.
Police Department Updates
Traffic Logic Speed Signs: Police Chief Craig Andersen said the Department received $13,000 from a Justice Assistance Grant and planned to purchase two signs, but shopped around for a better deal so they were able to get four. The programmable, solar-powered signs can be moved from location to location. The signs can be programmed to take photos of vehicles, but Chief Andersen said there are no plans to do that.
Distracted Driving Campaign: The Department has received grant funds from the Bureau of Highway Safety for distracted driving enforcement. Chief Andersen said these will be done with two-person details, with one officer spotting violators and another handling the stop. He said last year was a really bad year for traffic fatalities throughout the state and that everyone’s goal is to reduce those numbers. It is illegal in Maine to use any handheld device while driving, even while stopped at a traffic light.
FBI LEEDA Course: The SPD is hosting Law Enforcement Executive Development Association courses, which help officers develop leadership skills. The first class was hosted last month, with three more coming up later this year. For every ten officers who take the course (from SPD or other agencies) the hosting Department gets one slot for free.
Chili Cookoff: Sherry Boucher joined the meeting to talk about the SPD’s 2nd Annual Chili Cookoff, which is open to entries from the Fire Department and other City departments as well. She said it is a little morale booster to break up the winter blues. Last year’s winner was Dan Martineau, Assistant Director of the dispatch center. This year’s Cookoff will be held February 23.
Social Worker Update: Shannon Bentley, social worker with the Mental Health Unit, said she has been working on a number of collaborative initiatives, including with the Emergency Department at Southern Maine Health Care and with Maine Behavioral Healthcare. She said the collaboration with MBH has led to the creation of a rapid access referral program to help people the MHU is working with get services more quickly. They are also working with Maine Medical Center to institute a fellowship program for physicians interested in addiction medicine. Two doctors have signed up already to come to Sanford and learn more about working with substance use disorder. Another collaboration involves local mental health providers, health care providers and representatives from the York County Jail meeting monthly with the MHU to figure out next steps and solutions for individuals who are struggling in the community. These individuals would sign a release form to allow their cases to be discussed.
Ms. Bentley is working with the School Department on a program for homeless youth. She said there have been two events involving the deaths of children in the community recently, which were traumatic for first responders. A plan is being developed to provide mental health services to not only SPD members, but also firefighters and dispatchers on an on-call basis. The MHU was instrumental in the setup and operation of the warming center recently. The MHU is also hosting a meeting for social workers who work with police departments in York and Cumberland Counties, and nearby New Hampshire communities.
In addition to all that, Ms. Bentley also is responding to calls with the MHU’s officers, and there are some community members who call police often with mental health issues. A new protocol has been developed to defer these callers to the MHU to free up patrol officers’ time. She follows up with these individuals to get services in place for them, and a few have “graduated” and are doing better. Another person was getting intensive outreach services, including several referrals to Adult Protective Services, but has recently passed away. She said social workers are “a short term fix to a long term problem,” and that more services and programs are needed, including more hospital beds and group homes. Wait lists for nursing home placements are “a mile long,” she said.
Coffee With a Cop: Officer Adam Watson joined the meeting for a quick update on his outreach to the City’s elderly community. He spoke to residents at Sunset Tower recently about internet safety and phone scams. He will be visiting the Trafton Center in the near future.
Short-Term Rentals: The Subcommittee held a preliminary discussion on a possible zoning ordinance to address short-term rentals such as Air BnBs. Mr. Houseal will do some additional research and bring back a first draft of a proposed addition to the rental housing license section of the ordinances.
Solid Waste Subcommittee
Garbage to Garden: This curbside composting program, which was first proposed almost two years ago, will come before the Council for a presentation in March. Pre-enrollment for the program will also begin in March, with the service beginning April 1. Garbage to Garden will be providing a one-month free trial period. Under the program, residents who sign up will receive a clean bucket to fill with their food scraps, which will be picked up and replaced with another clean bucket the following week. There will also be free food scrap drop-off points for residents who choose not to sign up for the pickup service.
Solid Waste Update: Mr. Hill gave a brief presentation on waste, recycling and waste diversion in 2022. The good news is that the cost of recyclables is up, so that means lower costs for residents. And Sanford came in second in the state of Maine for the amount of old clothing collected by Apparel Impact in the state last year – 134 tons, which was 12.2% of the total they collected.
Contractor Bags: A price per bag for contractor bags that are dropped at the Transfer station was discussed and will be brought forward to the City Council for discussion and a vote.