Sanford Springvale News Banner

Copyright © 2024 – Sanford Springvale News – All rights reserved.

Four subcommittees of the Sanford City Council met via Zoom on Tuesday, May 25. Here are a few of the things that were discussed.

Municipal Operations and Property

Goodall Park Lease: The Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee discussed the Sanford Mainers’ lease with the City for Goodall Park, which is up for renewal. A new paragraph has been added to allow the team the free use of SanfordNet Fiber for broadcasting and other communications. The fees the team pays are unchanged. Parks Director Brian Desrochers said the fees were designed to recoup the operational and maintenance costs of the Park, not to make money. The Mainers are a 501c3 nonprofit organization. The lease will be on the City Council’s agenda for approval June 1.

Airport Advisory Committee: City Councilor John Tuttle had suggested at the last Council meeting that the Airport Advisory Committee should be made a Subcommittee of the Council. Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio said she would consider that a backward move, as the Airport serves the entire region, not just the City of Sanford. Airport Manager Allison Navia went over the makeup of the AAC, which currently includes two Sanford residents. There was consensus among the Subcommittee and administration that no changes need to be made at this time.

Snow Plowing: The Subcommittee reviewed the bid received for the west side plowing contract. C. A. Plante and Sons of Springvale was the sole bidder. Public Works Director Matt Hill said they are a contractor in good standing with the City, and have done the east side plowing for many years. City Manager Steven Buck explained that the east side and west side plowing is contracted out so that Public Works staff can concentrate on plowing the downtown areas and doing smaller jobs which are more expensive to contract out. The City Council will vote on accepting the bid next week.

Public Works Equipment: Bids for new plow trucks and sanders, and new sidewalk tractors for snow removal were also reviewed. Mr. Hill explained that as large trucks in the PWD fleet age out, he is gradually replacing them with smaller trucks that don’t require a commercial driver’s license to operate. The larger trucks are not needed as long as they keep up with the storm, and are more maneuverable in town. Trackless sidewalk tractors in the fleet are being replaced as they break down constantly. The funds to purchase the equipment was set aside in the Capital Improvement Plan. The Council will vote on accepting the bids for these purchases on June 1.

Road Projects: There was discussion of current road work projects. Mr. Hill said he hasn’t published his five-year plan, as the Westside Village project bids are over budget, and may result in other projects being delayed. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy said putting the project out to bid right before construction season was a mistake. Mr. Buck said he is looking at various options for covering the overage, including using federal American Rescue Plan funds that can be put toward infrastructure. He stressed that not doing the Westside Village project is not an option: “The bond was approved with a commitment for five years. We cannot lose momentum in year two of a five-year plan.” The Council will review options at its meeting on Tuesday.

A Powerpoint presentation on last year’s completed projects is available on the City’s website here. There is also a list of roadway moratoriums that includes the projects scheduled to be done this year here.

Public Safety

Covid-19: The Public Safety Subcommittee heard a Covid update from City Manager Buck. He announced that the City’s Covid-19 policy has been amended to align with the state guidelines. Face coverings are no longer required to be worn at City Hall, although those who are unvaccinated are strongly recommended to wear masks. Some younger City employees are still receiving their second shots. Capacity limits remain in place through June 30. Social distancing and cleaning protocols are unchanged. Mr. Buck added that there are no plans to remove the Plexiglas shields at City Hall, as they are not unsightly and may help with future flu seasons.

Police Department Grants: Deputy Police Chief Craig Andersen and grant writer Lee Burnett updated the Subcommittee on grants the City is applying for. One grant, from the state Bureau of Highway Safety, would pay for the Police Department to address speeding and distracted driving with close to 170 hours of targeted enforcement over the next few months. A decision on that grant is expected by the end of the week.

The second grant, from the federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program, would pay 75% of the salary and benefits of two officers for a three-year period. Community Outreach Officer Eric Small, who works with the City’s homeless and addicted population, is a perfect fit for the program. Mr. Burnett said there were possible options for the second position. One option is a community safety officer who would focus on all kinds of traffic and other safety issues. Police Chief Connolly spoke in favor of this option. Another option would be for a second officer to focus on substance use and recovery, so that Officer Small could devote more time to housing and homelessness. Officer Small explained that he expects to get much busier as eviction moratoriums and other Covid assistance expires.

Mr. Buck said Sanford’s best chance for success with the grant was for the second officer to focus on responding to people in crisis, whether it be mental health, substance use or other issues, with the ability to immediately refer to social service agencies. He said that if the grant also funds most of Officer Small’s position, budgeted funds that currently pay his salary could be redirected to a dedicated traffic officer.  The Subcommittee members, Mayor Mastraccio, Deputy Mayor Herlihy and Councilor Jonathan Martell, all agreed with this direction. The grant application is due in June. It is expected to be a few months before the results are known.

False Alarms: Deputy Police Chief Tim Strout presented a draft ordinance on false alarms, which would enable the Police Department to bill homeowners and businesses for repeated false alarm system calls to their property. There would be no fee for the first two false alarm calls within a calendar year. The third false alarm would result in a $25 fee, the fourth through sixth would result in a $50 fee, and after the sixth call, the fee would be $100 for each call. Deputy Chief Strout said the Department responds to an average of about 640 alarm calls per year, of which many are false alarms. Chief Connolly added that the point of the proposed fees to is get people and alarm companies to update their information so that the repeated calls don’t continue. The draft ordinance will be forwarded to the City Council to take up at the next meeting.

Homeless Encampments: Officer Small gave an update on his cleanups of homeless encampments around the city. He praised the many volunteers who have assisted him, including members of Rotary, Kiwanis, Great Bay, Pine Tree Properties, the Elks Club and many others. He said there are still a few areas that need to be cleaned up, but he will wait until fall as it’s too difficult once the trees are leafed out. He said that as of today there is no one living in the woods in Sanford. He stressed that homeless individuals are offered every service, no one has just been ordered to move along without any other options. There are still some people living in vehicles that he visits once or twice a week, that are not ready to accept services. “When they are, we will be there,” he said.

Zoning

Retail Marijuana: The Zoning Subcommittee devoted its entire meeting to continued discussion of an ordinance to allow retail adult-use marijuana sales. Mr. Buck summarized the discussion up to this point in a memo. They heard comments from several people involved in the industry here in Sanford. The Subcommittee agreed that a proposed ordinance would allow adult-use retail stores on the eight properties that are currently zoned for cannabis growing and cultivation operations, and medical marijuana offices, if those properties also meet the requirements for retail. (These eight properties currently house approximately 30 separate businesses.) Only three of the eight properties allow any kind of retail sales by right in the current zoning ordinances, and two others allow retail as a conditional use. The Subcommittee was also in agreement that only one license to operate a retail marijuana store would be permitted per property. Mr. Buck will begin working on the proposed ordinance. It will have go through Planning Board review and public hearings before the City Council can vote on it.

Solid Waste

Littering: City Councilor Ayn Hanselmann spoke to the Solid Waste Subcommittee about her ideas for a city-wide litter cleanup initiative. She described various ways that an initiative could be structured and some of the costs associated with each. She said a strong social media presence would help to educate and organize residents in the effort. There was consensus among the Subcommittee members to keep it simple. One idea is for the City to offer mini-grants to service organizations and other groups who would do the actual cleanup. Kits including trash pickers and reflective vests could be provided, along with free disposal of trash, and reimbursement for supplies like trash bags and gloves. Public Works Director Matt Hill emphasized that there would have to be strict safety guidelines. Mr. Buck said membership in an established organization like Keep America Beautiful also has benefits, and urged the Subcommittee members to consider it. No decisions were made, further research will be done and it will be revisited at the next meeting in June.

Photo ©2021 Google.

Copyright © 2024 - Sanford Springvale News - All rights reserved. | CoverNews by AF themes.