Members Present: Rob Browne, Lauchlin Titus, and Phil Haines
Others Present: Mary Sabins, Mary Grow, Alfred Roy, Thomas Richard, Dylan Dillaway, Landis Hudson, Nate Gray, Debby Thompson, Susan Little, Frank Richards, Catherine Nadeau, Rob Nadeau, Scott Pierz, Linda Butterfield, Jane Auidi, Allan Fuller, John Green, Lewis Devoe, Scott Stearns, Ray Breton, Larisa Batchelder, Charlie Hartman, Jon Blumberg, Roxanne Pullen, Bill Pullen, Trevor Tibbetts, Gene Field, Bernie Welch, and several others who did not sign the attendance sheet or whose signatures were illegible.
1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman Haines at 6:58 p.m.
2. Minutes – On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the minutes of the 4/20/16 meeting as written.
3. Public Hearing for TIF Funding Application from Vassalboro Sanitary District – Sanitary District Trustee Al Roy was present, but requested that the hearing be postponed momentarily until Trustee President Ray Breton arrived at the meeting. Chairman Haines agreed to comply with Mr. Roy’s request and selected another item from the agenda in the meantime.
4. Liquor License (taken out of agenda order) – Chairman Haines explained to the large crowd gathered in the room for another agenda item that the purpose of this agenda item was to approve a permit application for a catering firm to serve liquor at the Fieldstone Gardens property on June 23, 2016 for a fundraising event for Hospice Volunteers of Waterville. On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve and sign the permit for TCC, LLC d/b/a Kennebec Wharf for a one-time event.
5. Reports – a. Road Report - On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the report as presented. b. First Responders’ report – no report available. c. Police Report - On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the report as presented.
6. Public Hearing for TIF Funding Application from Vassalboro Sanitary District (VSD) – Chairman Haines declared the public hearing open at 7:05 p.m., after the arrival of VSD Chairman Ray Breton. When asked for input from Chairman Haines, Mr. Breton told the public at the meeting that the VSD system is old and needs to be replaced. The system is in compliance with MDEP rules now, but in a few years when the phosphorus level regulations are changed, the VSD system will be out of compliance. Mr. Breton explained that the VSD Trustees and engineers have met with Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) representatives several times to plan and coordinate the new sewer system installation plan with road reconstruction projects the MDOT has planned along Rt. #32 in East and North Vassalboro for 2018. A few questions were asked from the public in the room about the timing of this sewer project in comparison to the fish way projects. The public hearing was declared closed at 7:12 p.m.
7. Charlie Hartman was given the opportunity by Chairman Haines to make her presentation about her concerns about removal of the Masse Dam for the alewife restoration project to China Lake. Prior to the meeting, Ms. Hartman called several property owners in the Masse Dam area to make them aware of tonight’s meeting, and many came to hear and participate in the discussion. Ms. Hartman had also brought and displayed several photographs of the outlet stream area, and she began her presentation to the group that had gathered by stating that she is a “dyed in the wool environmentalist” who is not opposed to alewife coming to China Lake, but she is concerned about what will happen to outlet stream if the Masse Dam is dismantled. She referred to photographs on her display board, taken a few years ago when boards were taken out of the dam and the water was lowered about a foot. Concerns were expressed by attendees about how the streambed area will look and smell, once the dam is removed. Concern was also expressed for the waterfowl nesting area below the Masse Dam that may be impacted by the dam removal. Heated discussion ensued surrounding the topic of who would have the rights to the alewife harvest when the alewives return to China Lake, and who would profit from the harvest revenue. Some anglers in the audience stated they don’t want alewife in China Lake; they claimed fishing for sport is not productive where alewife are present. Chairman Haines reminded the group several times that the alewife restoration project is not a town project; it is a project of the China Region Lakes Alliance and the Alewife Restoration Initiative (ARI) groups, and because the dams were privately owned and sold to the CRLA, the town Selectmen have no control over whether the dams are dismantled, or a fishway bypass is installed. Ms. Hartman stated that she has learned that a State Statute exists that allows Selectmen to adopt an ordinance that authorizes them to regulate the water levels near dams. The Selectmen told Ms. Hartman that the town meeting warrant has already been finalized for this year’s annual June town meeting, and that there is no time to prepare an ordinance now in time for that meeting. Chairman Haines gave an opportunity to the ARI representatives in the room to speak to the group about the concerns that have been raised tonight. Nate Gray, an employee of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, addressed the group and told them he has worked for the last 25 years on fish restoration projects, and the idea of getting alewife back into China Lake has been in the making for about 14 of those years. When asked by Jon Blumberg if there was another way to get the alewife into China Lake besides dismantling Masse Dam, Nate answered yes, a fish ladder. Nate further explained that on average, fish ways cost $50K per vertical foot, and dam demolition is much more economical. Nate stated that the current plan is to remove the Masse Dam later this summer. Al Roy questioned how the dam removal could be accomplished so quickly, and expressed concern about what would be done with the East Vassalboro Water Company water pipes that lay in the stream bed now and will become exposed when the water is drained. The exposed water pipes will freeze in the winter. The group became unnerved that a plan exists to remove the dam so soon, and stated that they had no prior knowledge or warning that it was going to happen so quickly. ARI Representative Landis Hudson stated that several public meetings have been held, both in Vassalboro and China, to give the public notice about the project. Ms. Hartman stated that she had attended the meetings, but was not given the opportunity to express her opposition. Ms. Hudson stated that she was disturbed to hear the group say they had no knowledge of the project, and she strongly disagreed that Ms. Hartman had no opportunity to speak her thoughts on the matter. Another member of the group said they want another meeting with ARI, and want to be given some hope that possible changes in the current plan could be made. Landis stated that she would be willing to call another meeting to allow the group to express their concerns. A meeting date of Thursday, May 26th at 6:00 p.m. at the Vassalboro Grange Hall was established. Discussion was also given as to how the word about the meeting would be disseminated. The town website will be one source of advertisement. The heated and sometimes contentious discussion ended at 8:25 p.m.
8. Paving bids – Public Works Director and Road Commissioner Gene Field stated that the town had received bids from six vendors. This year is the first year we have bid out a combined bid with the Town of China. The lowest combined bid price for both China and Vassalboro was from State Paving for $58.50 per ton, and Gene recommended award of the bid to State Paving for this price. The price per ton from State Paving without the combined bid with China was $61.75. Discussion ensued about the paving work that is planned to be done next year, and how to combine the remaining $39,675 funds from the current fiscal year with the upcoming appropriation of $280K in next fiscal year to get the most paving work accomplished. Criticism of the condition of the roads and those making decisions about which roads to be paved was vehemently expressed by John Green, with Tom Richards agreeing that more paving work needs to be done to keep up with deteriorating road surface conditions. Chairman Haines stated that the Road Commissioner does the best he can with the funds he is given to work with, and that funds are limited each year to keep the taxes down. Chairman Haines invited John and Tom to attend the public Budget Committee meetings next year to express their concern about the amount of funding that is allotted for paving, or lack thereof. On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept Gene Field’s recommendation to join with the Town of China and to award the paving bid to State Paving for $58.50 per ton.
9. TIF Funds Distribution – Discussion was given as to how to distribute the available $233,957.93 in TIF funds that are currently available in the TIF Project Fund to the two applicants for funding, the total of which equals $295K and exceeds the available funding. On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to grant $145,000 to the Vassalboro Sanitary District. Then, on a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by P. Haines, the Board voted two in favor, one abstained (R. Browne) to grant to the CRLA $85,000 now and the remaining $65,000 when more TIF revenue comes in near late November.
10. Other (taken out of agenda order) – 1. Cemetery Committee Chairman Jane Auidi informed the Board that her Cemetery Committee is rapidly dissolving due to many of her committee members becoming caregivers for family members in need, which prevents them from attending the monthly meetings. Jane asked the Board if they are interested in retaining the Cemetery Committee would they please help her find some new Committee Members. L. Titus stated that he felt the Cemetery Committee was a great asset and a big help and should be continued. Tom Richard offered that he had spoken with Tim Giroux, a former Cemetery Committee Member in decades past, and he expressed an interest in rejoining. Sabins was asked to contact David Jenney to see if he is willing to help. Another suggested Sandra Toohey may be willing to join as well.
11. Treasurer’s Warrants – On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve warrants #62 and #63.
12. Other – 1. Chairman Haines noted that he was proud to announce that the Board of Selectmen have been advised that Town Manager Mary Sabins has qualified for her certification as a Municipal Manager through the Maine Town, City and County Management Association. The Board congratulated her on the accomplishment. 2. Sabins inquired on behalf of the bookkeeper if the town office could be closed early on Thursday, June 30th to allow her time to close the fiscal year books. The Board agreed an early closure was possible and they gave the Manager the discretion to determine the appropriate closing time and to advertise it in advance. 3. A notice was read from MMA that nominations for the Legislative Policy Committee are being accepted and need to be returned to MMA before June 21st. No action was taken by the Board tonight, but the subject will be revisited at the May 19th meeting.
13. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.
These minutes were read and accepted by the Board of Selectmen on 6/2/16 with the following amendments: None.