Vassalboro Select Board
Minutes of the Special Meeting
October 21, 2021

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

Others Present: Mary Sabins, Mary Grow, Mike Poulin, Billy & Roxanne Pullen, Gene Field, Lauchlin Titus, Walker Thompson, Mike Vashon, Shawn Bragg, and Tom Richards.

1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman Rob Browne at 6:30 pm. Rob explained the purpose of the meeting was to have a goal setting session to give the Board members an opportunity to bring up topics important to them that could be worked on by the Board as projects for the future. Rob explained that while the public is welcome to observe the meeting and discussion, little input from the public will be received at the meeting.

2. Introduction of newest office staff team member – Town Clerk Cathy Coyne and Bookkeeper Kayla Krause joined the meeting briefly to introduce new Deputy Clerk Stacy Richmond to the Board and to members of the audience. This is Stacy’s first week on the job; she was welcomed by the Board.

3. Board shares ideas – Chairman Browne kicked off the discussion by sharing his future goals that he would like to see developed over time. 1. Rob expressed concern about lack of available open public spaces and sited that there is less access for hunters due to posted land. He also noted that the school is often not available for recreation as it was intended to be many years ago when the school was built. Rob offered that a secondary building is needed with a basketball court for the public’s general use, not just kid-related. Rob suggested we could work with the school for the funding and use of such a building. Rob also stated that he likes the idea of the development of the tax acquired property as a streamside park for public access, and he expressed thankfulness to resident Ray Breton for taking on the personal liability to allow the public to use his personal property in the North Village area. 2. Rob then mentioned the need for cross training labor to cover for illness and absences. 3. Rob encouraged the Board to stay flexible in our capital expense planning to avoid the need to borrow funds in the future. Board Member Barbara Redmond agreed with Chairman Brown and offered that she wants to see a capital plan developed for both long and short-term investments to help with planning needs.

B. Redmond expressed a desire to survey residents to determine their level of interest to create and establish some zoning in town that will help determine where certain types of developments and events can take place in town. Putting zoning in place could alleviate the need to piecemeal rules with separate new ordinances. C. French offered that putting a Comprehensive Plan in place could provide protection for citizens as well.

C. French said that he had reviewed the Strategic Plan that was adopted a number of years ago. He suggested that tax-acquired property in the future could be donated for low-income housing. Sabins responded that the Select Board attempted to donate tax-acquired land to Habitat for Humanity a number of years ago, but the agency could not accept the gift as they had a shortage of volunteers. Chris stated that he would like to revisit the RFP policy and protocols for acquiring large ticket items. He gave the recent compactor purchases as an example and stated that he wants to appoint committees for large purchases, similar to his experiences on fire truck committees. Chris also said he is worried about the decommissioning of outdated solar arrays. There are now four to five new arrays in town already approved without an ordinance in place to dictate disposal procedures when the time comes. On other topics, Chris said that he supports recreation programs for all age groups; and that he wants to have the wage comparison study completed. He feels that staff deserves to be paid for their skills and he would like the topic of the study to be on the next Board agenda. B. Redmond also supported having the wage study completed and suggested the Board consider adding an assistant town manager position to train to take over the Manager’s position when she retires and also to do grant writing and accounting. Discussion was given with Town Manager Sabins about this idea and her job duties including tax collection and tax lien processes. Sabins explained that there is no current staff member except her with tax lien and foreclosure process experience.

B. Redmond stated that she had spoken with Mike Vashon recently who has been working with resident Libby Mitchell and the Governor’s office to reopen discussion about cleaning up the contents of the quarry on the Tree Free Fiber property. Barbie would like to see discussions with the DEP begin again to get that quarry site cleaned up if money is now available. Barbara said she is willing to work on that project.

As Board ideas and conversation wound down, Chairman Browne summarized the common topics as follows:

1. Need to look at whether zoning is needed and desired.
2. Recreation services – look at how and whether to expand leadership
3. Development of a Capital Improvement Plan
4. Grant Coordinator/Rec. Services
5. Job Description review.

Chairman Browne invited Town Manager Sabins to share her list of ideas for future goals. She brought up the topics of developing the tax-acquired property on Main Street into a Streamside Park for public access. Initially, it was thought that ARPA funds could be used to develop this park, but a recent opinion from MMA Legal Staff indicates that may not be the case. Further research is needed. Sabins also mentioned the idea of creating illuminated outside tennis and basketball courts at the recreation fields site on Bog Road and gave the examples of such in the Town of Union where she lives. She suggested the idea again of a recreation/activities director that she had pitched for the last two budget seasons that were eliminated. Sabins also mentioned that an increase in the proposed hours for the Code Officer/Plumbing Inspector position in the next budget cycle is likely. On another matter, the Personnel Handbook needs to be updated to include the new Federal and State Juneteenth Holiday. Sabins read a Presidential Proclamation describing the origin of the new Federal holiday. In an email to the Board prior to the meeting, former Selectman Lauchlin Titus suggested if the Handbook is amended, the inclusion of town school staff wages and benefits should be considered as they are all town staff. Sabins asked the Board to approve the early closure of the town office at 4 pm on Thursday, November 4th, 2021 to allow staff time to attend the Chamber of Commerce award ceremony where former bookkeeper Jean Poulin will be recognized as the 2020 Municipal Employee of the Year. The Board approved this request. Sabins also described how the Outlet Stream Dam structure is leaking and needs to be filled. Railing improvements around the dam gatehouse and platforms over the stream should also be considered for public safety.

B. Redmond stated that we need to find a use for our America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Sabins stated that $230,664.91 of the ARPA funds have arrived in our bank account. The Board approved by consensus Sabins’ recommendation to put the ARPA funds in a separate account at the Credit Union where it can gain interest until a use for the funds is found.

Given just a few minutes left before the meeting was slated to adjourn, Chairman Browne opened the floor to any suggestions from the public in attendance. Mike Vashon stated that Outlet Stream Dam was a liability back when he was town manager. He stated it was recommended by someone back then to abandon the dam and let Kennebec Water District take over the dam. Fire Chief Walker Thompson asked about the progress being made on the lawsuit on the dilapidated church on Priest Hill Road. Sabins said there is no progress to report and that the town attorney is waiting for the courts to schedule the case on the docket. PW Director Gene Field reminded the Board that the Cushnoc Road Bridge needs repair and has recently been posted by MDOT for 20 tons. M. Vashon asked if the Cushnoc Road Bridge belongs to the State, to which Gene said yes, but they do not have the funding to fix it. Left unrepaired, the State will likely close the road at the bridge when the bridge becomes unsafe and unpassable. Gene also wants to add another man and another truck to his PW department. Also, Gene mentioned the sidewalks in the North Village Area are in severe disrepair and need attention. Lauchlin Titus stated that he had spoken with a MDOT employee who paved Rt. #32 this summer and she told Lauchlin that the state was coming back next year to replace the curbing and sidewalks. This was news to the Board and town staff because we were told recently by MDOT that sidewalk maintenance is the town’s responsibility.

4. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 7:57 p.m.


These minutes were read and accepted by the Board of Selectmen on 11/18/21 with the following amendments: 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.