News Feature

Web exclusive, September 8, 2023
Town Manager Blodgett to step down
Effective March 2024

Castine Town Manager Shawn Blodgett

Castine Town Manager Shawn Blodgett addresses the select board on Tuesday, September 5.

Photo by David Avery Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by David Avery

During the select board meeting at Emerson Hall on Tuesday, September 5, Town Manager Shawn Blodgett announced that he will step down from his position in March of 2024. Blodgett has served as town manager since 2019.

At the meeting, Blodgett said that he has enjoyed working in a job that helps make the town where he lives a better place.

He is also “very much looking forward to reducing my workload and spending more time with my family.”

Resident Bobby Vagt addressed the 20 or more people in attendance and expressed gratitude for Blodgett’s contributions to the town. Many responded with a round of applause.

Blodgett said, “I do very little,” giving credit to the town staff at Emerson Hall and elsewhere around town.

After the meeting, Blodgett’s wife Ann said the couple and their two children have no plans to leave the area.

During his town manager’s report, Blodgett requested that the select board organize some recognition for another figure in town who has contributed for years, physician Dr. Marjorie Olivari. The time and date are not yet determined.

Olivari is relocating to Virginia to be closer to family and to take a teaching position.

The town manager also informed the board that a potential $1.9 million grant would not be coming. Castine’s application was declined, Blodgett said. It was hoped that the grant money would help defray the costs of road repairs on western Court Street.

After discussion of the issue, including comments from the public, the board recommended that the town repave Court Street in that area now and delay the full repair until, perhaps, 2027, when finances are expected to be more conducive.

Blodgett reported on other paving and street maintenance projects, including ditch maintenance at the bottom of Wadsworth Cove Road to alleviate some of the flooding, which in the winter results in an icy mess.

The board approved contracting with a company called Curbsol to fix sidewalks in the area of Court, Perkins and Pleasant Streets.

Blodgett asked residents to report any street lights that they notice are out. The town owns the street lights, but only contractors approved by Central Maine Power can work around their utility poles. Such contractors are few and not located near Castine, Blodgett said.

It would behoove the town to get as many lights replaced as possible when they do show up, Blodgett explained.

Recycling continues to pose a problem for the residents of Castine, Blodgett told the board. Too many staff hours are spent sorting recycling, and too much “recycling” ends up in the trash. “Taxpayers are eating that cost,” he said.

He asked, rhetorically, if curbside pickup of recycling is “a service the town of Castine needs to supply.”

During public comments, resident Don Tenney recounted a recent event in which a water main near his house broke, sending an estimated 600,000 gallons of water into the street and the harbor. The main was repaired.

The ongoing controversy over 26 Water Street showed no sign of abating. Several residents requested explanations as to why no action has been taken.

Board member Gordon MacArthur explained that the town is in a sensitive legal situation and wants to avoid incurring more legal costs.

The select board chair put it succinctly when he said, “As a town, we’ve purposely taken the high road.”

Joe Slocum, a resident and former Castine town manager, reminded the assembled that even the most difficult applicant for building permits is entitled to due process. The town cannot just remove the sign, he said.

In other action, the board approved a general fund warrant for close to $500,000, approximately $450,000 of which went to debt service, according to board member Roberta Boczkiewicz.

The board also approved a water department warrant for approximately $108,000. Both were approved 3-0.

The board also approved two tax abatments amounting to $86.

The issue of food trucks in Castine came up during old business portion of the meeting. Research into the issue continues, Blodgett told the board.

The next board meeting will take place on Monday, September 18, at 4 p.m. A work session is scheduled for Monday September 11, at 9 a.m.