Vassalboro Board of Selectmen
Minutes of the Meeting
November 18, 2021

Members Present: Rob Browne, Barbara Redmond, and Chris French

Others Present: Mary Sabins, Mary Grow, Mike Poulin, Walker Thompson, Ken Vlodek, Gene Field, Melissa Olson, Tommy Richards, Holly Weidner (7:30), Steve Jones (7:30), Peggy Horner (7:30), and Paul Mitnik (7:30).

1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman Rob Browne at 6:30 pm.

2. Minutes – B. Redmond observed that in the October 21st meeting minutes, in line three of section three, the word “sited” should be written as “stated” and that the sentence should be corrected to read: “Rob expressed concern about lack of available open public spaces and stated that there is less access for hunters due to posted land.” On a motion made by C. French, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously to accept the minutes of the 9/30/21 meeting as written and the 10/21/21 meeting as amended.

3. Executive Session – Chairman Browne stated that due to scheduling logistics the zoom executive session planned with the town attorney will be held at 8:00 pm tonight.

4. Other (taken out of agenda order) – Because Mr. Vlodek, one of the liquor license applicants, was waiting in the audience, Chairman Browne agreed to take up those topics at the top of the meeting. The Board reviewed the State Liquor license applications for both Ken Vlodek and Larisa Batchelder for special celebratory events they were each holding at different times at the St. Bridget Center. On a motion made by C. French, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously to approve both permits. The Board members signed each permit as required by the State, which the applicant will further submit to the State for final approval.

5. Transfer Station equipment update – C. French inquired if the Board members thought the Board should be planning now for a structure over the open top container. The Board asked Sabins if there has been any additional update from the vendor we plan to purchase the compactor and containers from. Sabins said there was no update and apparently no plan to do any work until spring. The Board asked G. Field about his understanding for the timing of the pad replacement/repair for installation of the new compactors. Gene stated that his recollection was that the new compactor was to be installed and operational first, then repair/replace the existing pad and compactor. The new additional compactor is larger than the existing machine and requires a larger pad. Chairman Browne stated he does not want to spend any more money for a covering structure until the new equipment is in place. C. French asked if an engineering study is needed for a building. R. Browne stated he is not comfortable spending more money for engineering service. He is concerned about return on investment for engineering services. C. French stated he wants to protect our investment on the equipment and cover it. R. Browne stated he has spent all he wants to spend right now. Sabins will get a status update on the equipment order from the vendor for discussion at the next meeting. Gene repeated that his understanding was we were install the new compactor, then remove the old one for replacement.

6. Goal options to pursue – Chairman Browne recapped discussion from the 10/21 meeting when future goals of the Board were discussed. B. Redmond stated that a Capital Improvement Plan helps with planning purposes for expenses in the future. Sabins offered that a spreadsheet exists that contains equipment needs now and in the future that could be updated. After discussion, it was decided to have Sabins update the spreadsheet and bring it back for discussion at the next meeting. Resident Tom Richards expressed concern about the failing bridge on the Cushnoc Road that is now posted by MDOT at 20 tons. Tom is concerned about emergency responses on that road and doesn’t want to close the road and feels we should raise the money to fix it. Chairman Browne stated that the bridge belongs to MDOT and that the town does not have the money to repair the bridge.

7. Wage study – After brief discussion and on a motion made by B. Redmond, seconded by C. French, the Board voted unanimously to proceed with the wage and compensation study that is funded in this year’s budget.

8. Goal options to pursue (continued) – Returning to the goal option discussion, B. Redmond stated that she felt we could eliminate the zoning piece. C. French offered that he felt we don’t get the word out to the public well and that the public didn’t even know what they were voting on when the Mass Gathering Ordinance was presented for adoption on November 2nd and failed. After discussion, the Board agreed a future agenda item could be to discuss developing a resident survey to determine the residents’ appetite for zoning. Chairman Browne thought we could also talk with some town committee members to get their sense of support for zoning or not. C. French stressed again that he thinks it is important to adopt a solar array ordinance to regulate decommissioning of obsolete solar arrays in the future. It was suggested that possibly the former solar array committee could be rejuvenated with a new mission to write the solar array ordinance. John Melrose served as the chair of the old committee and will be contacted. On another matter, B. Redmond asked for the Board’s approval for her to call the DEP to learn more about possible funding to clean up the Tree Free Fiber quarry. The Board agreed. Barb said she will make the calls next week.

9. Personnel Handbook – With little discussion and on a motion made by B. Redmond, seconded by C. French, the Board voted unanimously to incorporate the new Juneteenth holiday in the Personnel Handbook.

10. Planning Board appointments – On a motion made by B. Redmond, seconded by C. French, the Board voted unanimously to appoint and advance Marianne Stevens to a regular position from the alternate position on the Planning Board to fill the unexpired term of Sally Butler, who resigned. The Board then discussed filling the alternate position vacancy. Paul Mitnik has expressed desire to serve as the alternate member, but he cannot take the position until January 1, 2022 because of the conflict with his current CEO/LPI job that will end 12/31/21. On a motion made by B. Redmond, seconded by C. French, the Board voted unanimously to appoint Paul Mitnik as an Alternate Planning Board member, effective January 1, 2022.

11. Tentative budget schedule – The Board reviewed the list of tentative meetings as prepared by Sabins. C. French brought up the one daytime meeting for the Select Board to conduct a budget workshop. He asked the need for it and stated he would need to take vacation time to participate. The Board members offered to change the time. Sabins stated that the daytime budget workshop is typically used for discussion with department heads about their proposed budgets and it has been held in the past during the department head’s workday. The meeting time was not changed at this meeting. Freshman Budget Committee member Frank Richards had emailed Sabins and the Select Board earlier requesting changes in the format of the budget packets and presentation. The idea of changing the budget packet format was discussed. Chairman Browne asked PW Director Gene Field if he felt the need to change the budget packet format. Gene said he was happy with the format the way it is. The Board members said they were happy with the old format as well, but B. Redmond stated she liked the pie charts that were used last year and asked Sabins to review the charts to see if they could be recreated and updated again this year.

12. Banking options – No information was available for discussion at this meeting. The topic was postponed until the next meeting.

13. December meeting dates – The Board members agreed that the December 9th meeting date works well, but the December 23rd meeting date is very close to the Christmas holiday. After discussion, the Board agreed by consensus to move the 23rd meeting to Wednesday, December 22nd at 6:30 pm. At office staff members’ request, the Board also agreed to close town operations at 4:00 pm on Thursday, December 23rd to allow staff to have more time with family on the holiday. The Board also approved the plan for a staff holiday luncheon at noon on Friday, December 17th at the town office.

14. Reports – B. Redmond asked G. Field about the broken windshield claim filed against the town that was denied by the insurance company. Gene stated that the claimant’s insurance will have to pay for windshield replacement. Chairman Browne asked G. Field if he had noticed the orange surveying tape placed along the shoulder of Rt. #32 at Gidney’s property. Gene said he has noticed it. After discussion and on a motion made by C. French, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously to accept the Road, Police, Financial, Transfer Station and First Responder Reports as presented.

15. Treasurer’s Warrants – On a motion made by B. Redmond, seconded by C. French, the Board voted unanimously to approve warrant #29.

16. Other1. The Board approved casting the town’s ballot for Karen Fussell in her bid to be re-elected to a seat on the MRC Board of Directors. 2. The Board reviewed John Melrose’s offer to have the Trails Committee assist with writing rules for the Town Forest Trails. The Board agreed that rules will be needed and that they would appreciate the assistance of the Trail Committee to write some draft rules for the Board to review and adopt. 3. The Board approved John Melrose’s request for the Trails Committee’s membership to the Kennebec Land Trust for a $250.00 membership fee. 4. Rec Committee Member Melissa Olson said that the snack shack has been reported to have been broken into, but she was uncertain if that was actually the case. The shack door has been damaged and she had trouble exiting the building one day. She is requesting that the door knob be replaced along with a new lock and keys that say “Do Not Copy” on them. After brief discussion, the Board approved by consensus the replacement of the lock and keys now, but not distributing the keys to committee members until the building is needed again in the spring.

17. Streamside Park discussion – Conservation Commission (VCC) Chair Holly Weidner and several members of the VCC were present at the meeting to share their thoughts and preliminary plans for development of a park at the tax acquired property on Rt. #32. The presentation included rough estimates of dollars needed to begin the work of creating the driveway and parking lots, along with picnic tables for seating. The Board expressed appreciation for the work the committee has done on this project and will discuss it further at budget preparation time.

18. Executive session – On a motion made by B. Redmond, seconded by C. French, the Board voted unanimously at 8:00 p.m. to enter into an Executive Session via zoom with Attorney Kristin Collins of Preti-Flaherty pursuant to 1 MRSA, Section 405, Sub-section 6(E) to discuss legal action concerning property located at 14 Priest Hill Road. The Board returned to open session at 8:40 pm.

19. Executive session – On a motion made by B. Redmond, seconded by C. French, the Board voted unanimously at 8:45 p.m. to enter into an Executive Session pursuant to 1 MRSA, Section 405, Sub-section 6(A) to discuss a personnel matter. The Board returned to open session at 9:00 p.m.

20. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.


These minutes were read and accepted by the Board of Selectmen on 12/9/21 with the following amendments: None.