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Three of the City Council’s Subcommittees met November 22, 2022. This is a brief summary of items discussed at each.

Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee

Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio, Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy and Councilor Becky Brink make up this Subcommittee.

Central Park Benches: Parks and Recreation Director Brady Lloyd brought forward a proposal to have students at Sanford Regional Technical Center make benches for Central Park, similar to the ones they made for Gateway Park a few years ago. The benches have a center arm rest that prevents people from lying down. City Manager Steve Buck said people sleeping on the benches in the Park is a problem. The cost of materials, plus sandblasting and painting is estimated to be about $7,000 for five benches. Subcommittee members liked the idea and the City will apply to the William Oscar Emery Trust for the funding. If it is approved, the benches can be made over the winter and installed in the spring.

Bench at Gateway Park.

Dock at Number One Pond: Mr. Lloyd said the dock “definitely has seen better days” and he is concerned about its safety, as the ramp is steep and has no rails. The current dock is owned by the Maine Attraction Water Ski Team, but he recommends that the City purchase a new one. Subcommittee members agreed, as the City would most likely be sued anyway if someone got hurt there. A City-owned dock would be removed each winter to make it last longer. Mr. Buck recommended it be handicapped accessible, and Subcommittee members agreed. Ian Houseal, Director of Community Development, said funding may be available through the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Mr. Lloyd will do some more research before bringing this item back to the Subcommittee.

Orioles Way: Rob Reinken of ReinCorp and Heritage Realty Trust presented his request for the City to accept Orioles Way as a City road. (This means that the City would take over maintenance of it and also provide trash pickup.) Mr. Reinken said the project, which began in 2015, is now complete and fully occupied, and the roadway has been built to City standards. Public Works Director Matt Hill said he could not recommend acceptance due to the shortage of plow truck drivers. The Subcommittee members and City Manager disagreed. Deputy Mayor Herlihy said if the road is built to City standards, it should be accepted unless it is made clear in the planning process that it would not be accepted. Mr. Buck added that the homes on Orioles Way bring in more than enough tax revenue to cover the City’s costs. Code Enforcement Officer Jamie Cole said this was one of the last subdivisions that went through the process intending to be accepted. Developers are now told upfront not to assume new roads will be accepted. The proposal will come before the full City Council in December.

The cul-de-sac at Orioles Way.

Winter Parking: There was discussion about whether to make any changes to the City’s winter parking ordinance. After reviewing the list of streets where winter parking is banned, Subcommittee members were in agreement that no changes were necessary. Pete Smith, Assistant Director of Public Works, said the bigger problem is enforcement of the ordinance. He said in the past some police officers have been reluctant to have vehicles towed so the plow trucks can get through. Mr. Hill said he has had the same experience. Mr. Buck said he would speak to Chief Andersen to ensure that the ordinance is enforced equitably by all officers. He will also have the City’s Communications Coordinator do more publicity about the areas where winter parking is banned.

Citizen of the Year: A proposal to name a Sanford Citizen of the Year in conjunction with Extra Mile Day was discussed. Extra Mile Day is November 1 and recognizes volunteerism in the community. Candidates could be nominated through the City’s website. All were agreed it is a good idea and the process should be developed in time for next year.

Public Safety Subcommittee

Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio, Councilor Jonathan Martell and Councilor Becky Brink make up this Subcommittee.

Shaw Field Parking: Parking for Sanford Soccer tournaments at Shaw Field was discussed. There was concern after this year’s State Championship on November 6 that the current parking plan may be insufficient. Mike Fraser of Sanford Soccer said the 70-degree weather encouraged more family members to attend than normally would. He said one factor that contributed to the parking problem was the loss of parking on the Sanford Water District property across the street from the field, due to concerns about contamination of the wellhead. City Manager Buck will coordinate a meeting between Sanford Soccer officials, and City staff from the Parks and Rec, Police, Fire and Public Works Departments to work on parking plans and coordination of large-scale tournaments.

Covid-19 Report: Mr. Houseal presented the latest Covid-19 wastewater monitoring report. The report shows there was a spike in the virus detected at the Mousam Pump Station in August and another one in mid-October, but the level has since declined.

Parking of Commercial/Oversized Vehicles: The Subcommittee discussed a proposed ordinance to ban the overnight parking of commercial vehicles, tractors, trailers, recreational vehicles and unregistered vehicles on City streets. This proposal was discussed last year but the Subcommittee was unable to reach consensus, so it did not come forward to the full Council. City Manager Buck said there was a recent issue with people living in a camper parked on North St. The Police Department was only able to have the vehicle towed because it was unregistered for more than six months. Mayor Mastraccio and Councilor Brink agreed that it was time to move this issue forward. Councilor Martell said he has concerns with someone parking their boat for one night if they are going to be taking it out for the weekend and recommended a 24-hour time limit. Mayor Mastraccio said that was not an issue because the Police Department can give permission for occasional parking. Public Works Director Matt Hill agreed, saying that the problem is not one-time parking, but flagrant, blatant and chronic abusers. Councilor Martell said he is also concerned that commercial vehicles are not well-defined in the proposed ordinance, and should not include people who use cars or pickups for their businesses. Police Chief Craig Andersen agreed and said they will work on the language to define commercial vehicles by weight so that smaller vehicles will be excluded. The proposed ordinance will be forwarded to the full City Council for consideration.

Police Department Updates

Personnel: Chief Anderson introduced Michael Grenier, the newest officer to join the Department. Experienced officer Johnny Narvaez has also joined the force. Sam Bennett has been promoted to Detective. He has an interest in cyber crime which is becoming more prominent with the increase of easily accessible technology.

Mental Health Unit: Shannon Bentley, the SPD’s social worker, and Lacey Bailey, the OPTIONS clinician, provided an update on the MHU’s activities since the last update in October.

  • The Unit has responded to 145 calls in that time period. Many of the calls were for unhoused people, but the unit has also had many from the emergency department at Southern Maine Health Care.
  • They are working on plans for individuals who are responsible for an extremely high number of calls. She said 146 calls this year have been for the same individual.
  • The MHU made a presentation to the Rotary Club to talk about how funds they donated have been used to purchase gift cards and emergency cell phones for those in need. Funds are also being allocated to helping people get driver’s licenses and non-driver IDs so they can sign up for food stamps and MaineCare.
  • Representatives from the Rochester Police Department came to Sanford to learn how to create a program like the one here.
  • All four members of the MHU were involved in the response to the active shooter threat. Officers Colleen Adams and Mike Gordon were at Sanford High School while Ms. Bentley and OPTIONS Clinician Lacey Bailey were at the reunification site offering support.
  • Ms. Bentley is also the mental health consultant for the Southern Maine Strategic Response Team, and was called with the Team to an incident in Cornish which became a daylong standoff.
  • Ms. Bailey has been working on community-wide trainings for Narcan use. She reported that there had been no overdose fatalities in the past 30 days.
  • She is also coordinating with other police departments, and will be going to the Wells PD to talk about the MHU. She is also setting up a collaboration with the crisis team at Sweetser.

Opioid Funding: Deputy Chief Eric Small joined the meeting by phone from Augusta, where he was attending the first meeting of the Opioid Recovery Council. He is the only member of the Council from York County. Mr. Buck reported that Sanford has received the first distributions, totaling $76,000, from the $131 million that will come to Maine from the opioid settlement. The Recovery Council will be making decisions on how the money is to be spent.

Comfort Canine: See separate story.

Body Worn Cameras: Sgt. Eddie Murphy gave an update and demonstration on the body-worn cameras that the Department began using recently. He said the video footage from the cameras has already been used on multiple occasions when there were citizen complaints, to show that officers acted appropriately. Officers turn on the cameras manually whenever they are interacting with the public, but the cameras also come on automatically whenever a firearm or taser is unholstered.

Zoning Subcommittee

Councilor Robert Stackpole, Council Martell and Deputy Mayor Herlihy make up this Subcommittee

Chickens: The Subcommittee discussed whether changes were needed to the City’s chicken ordinance following the amendment to the Maine constitution regarding food sovereignty. Councilor Martell said he did not believe the City could regulate food animals that are not raised for commercial purposes. City Manager Buck replied that local zoning ordinances still apply due to the impact on surrounding property owners. Deputy Mayor Herlihy said that people have a right to grow their own food, but have to meet the restrictions set forth by the City, pursuant to the home rule authority granted to municipalities. But both Ms. Herlihy and Councilor Stackpole said they were open to amending the ordinance and relaxing some restrictions. After lengthy discussion, it was decided that an amendment will be drafted to allow chickens in the urban zone as long as setbacks and other provisions are met. Councilor Martell said that would be a step in the right direction, which would allow some residents to have chickens who currently are not allowed to. The draft will come back to the Subcommittee for review in December before being forwarded to the full Council.

Image by Xuân Tuấn Anh Đặng from Pixabay

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