News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 10, 2013
Donations signal Castine’s happy new year

by Sharon Bray

Two organizations gave selectmen a happy start to the new year at their first board meeting January 7.

Bagaduce Ambulance Corps, which disbanded at the end of 2011, and Castine Historical Society offered donations. Selectmen Peter Vogell (chairman) and David Unger voted to accept; Selectman Gus Basile was absent.

When the BAC Board of Directors announced the decision to end its decades of service to the Castine area at the end of 2011, members said financial and equipment resources would likely be given to the town. BAC had financial health but trouble recruiting enough volunteers. The town hired Peninsula Ambulance out of Blue Hill to provide emergency transportation and established a first responder service locally. A number of previous BAC volunteers became first responders, many of them already trained as emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

At Monday’s meeting, Vogell reported that BAC had given the town $72,500 “to help pay the contracting transport service.” He said selectmen would prepare a policy on use of the funds.

Town Manager Dale Abernethy suggested paying 10 percent of “each current year’s bill” from the fund, which would stretch it out over about a decade.

The other donation came from Castine Historical Society to help fund an upgrade for the town’s website. The $1,500 gift would supplement other donations raised by the Community and Economic Development Committee.

Selectmen also discussed termination of Nancy Carr’s lease of the Dyce Head lighthouse keeper’s house, where she has lived for about 40 years. According to Vogell, health problems prevent Carr from continuing to live in the historic building.

The town could find a new year-round tenant, rent it seasonally or some other arrangement. Selectmen asked Abernethy to prepare figures to help them decide what to do next.

Bill Olver gave selectmen an update on design plans for infrastructure work in the downtown area. He handed out an outline summary with drawings for three possible streetscape plans.

His company, Olver Associates, has completed its field survey, cellar inspections, drainage and water system analyses and other technical work. The public has participated in workshop discussions including input from a landscape architect. Olver said he plans at least one more public discussion.

Public opinion, according to Olver, favors keeping two-way traffic on Main Street while preserving the maximum amount of parking and making sidewalks safe and attractive. Although some saw the need for a sidewalk only on the east side on lower Main Street, the majority favored inclusion of a usable sidewalk on the west side.

Selectmen will have to decide which plans to approve for downtown before Olver can complete a final draft plan with cost estimates.

Vogell and Unger also talked about approaches to the land use ordinance update. Voters in November passed one update and rejected another despite selectmen having removed many “controversial” provisions.

Abernethy suggested allowing residents to vote on a “baseline” ordinance and on separate additional items that were removed last fall. He said he would put the baseline version on the town’s website.

Vogell suggested involvement of the public to begin discussion at the next downtown street design meeting.

Selectmen having told Doug Coos they would revisit affordable housing issues at their second January meeting, agreed, tentatively, to a public hearing on Tuesday, January 22.

In other business, selectmen appointed Adam Potter, facilities director at MMA, to an open seat on the Utility Board.

Vogell and Unger signed a letter in support of the town receiving a sculpture from the Schoodic symposium. A public discussion of the request was scheduled for Tuesday, January 8.

Resident Beverly Bishop said one possible placement of the sculpture would be on an open space at the Wilson Museum where it would be visible from the water and the street.

Community and Economic Development Committee chairman Pat Bishop gave selectmen an annual report from Sue Walsh, consultant on economic development, and a list of committee plans for upcoming months.

Selectmen set the date for town meeting on Saturday, May 18, starting at 8:30 a.m.