A referendum vote that would have established a town charter commission fell just short of passage on Tuesday. The final tally was 387 in favor of creating a charter commission and 391 opposed.
In the race for two open seats on the Select Board, George Colby and Tammy Donovan defeated Peter Bragdon and Stephen Hathorne. Colby and Donovan won three-year terms and will replace outgoing board members Lenora Conger and Steven Libby.
Voters also approved the MSAD 15 budget by a comfortable margin, and elected Misty Coolidge, Nichole Stevens, and Laura Jane Sturgis unopposed to three open seats on the school board.
Full election results, as posted on the town’s website:
James Katsiaficas, a Portland attorney formerly with the Maine Municipal Association, provided an overview of town charters and the charter-proposal process at an informational meeting on June 5 at the Meetinghouse. Katsiaficas also shared examples of what town charters can and cannot do, offered some pros and cons of charters, and fielded questions from the audience.
Katsiaficas was invited by Town Manager Carrie Castonguay and the Select Board ahead of New Gloucester’s June 11 referendum vote on whether to establish a town charter commission. In his introductory remarks, Katsiaficas noted that while the charter process must follow certain required steps, the scope and terms of a charter depend on the town’s “needs and desires” and are “unique to each municipality.”
Audience members asked questions about what prompts communities to turn toward charters, how residents are elected to seats on a charter commission, when a commission disbands, and more.
Memorial School’s second grade classes enjoyed up-close lessons in New Gloucester history at the Blockhouse as well as sites at the Town Hall complex on May 30. Experts from the New Gloucester Historical Society hosted the station-to-station field trip, carrying on a decades-long tradition begun by Betty and Ed True and carried on through the years by Nancy Wilcox and others.
By Ellie Fellers – Special to the Sun Journal – June 4, 2019 New Gloucester — The Planning Board on Tuesday heard from a dozen residents opposed to a 70-foot, T-shaped dock proposed by Sabbathday Lake Shores developer Alan Hamilton of Gray.
To get a sense of what it would look like, a group of lakeside property owners recently delineated the area using styrofoam noodles and other items to create a mock 70-foot dock that stretched from the shore and attached to a 35-foot wide dock sitting perpendicular to it.
L.L. Bean is offering introductory lessons in fly-casting, archery,
and mountain biking on the Pineland campus without the usual $25 fee through
June 30. Mastercard, Bean’s partner, is
picking up the tab. Stand-up
paddleboarding, kayaking, and clay-shooting will also be offered free at
locations around Freeport. The full slate of outdoor discovery activities
can be accessed here. Note that participants
must sign up online, and some activities may have age minimums or other restrictions.
“Be careful what you wish for” might have been the subtext
of the Land Management Planning Committee’s May 22 meeting. Taking up a request from the Sabbathday Lake
Association to consider regulating docks and moorings, the LMPC began getting
up to speed on relevant Maine law. By
meeting’s end, LMPC members and town planner Scott Hastings were commenting
that lake residents “may want to rethink” their request for a mooring ordinance,
noting that it “could be adverse to a number of property owners on the lake.”
The town currently has no rules on docks or seasonal moorings
for boats, jet skis, and swim floats. Municipalities
are allowed to regulate moorings, Hastings said, but subject to state statutes. Among notable points: Maine law appears to entitle
each waterfront property owner to only one mooring; a municipal harbor master, compensated
and specially trained, decides mooring requests, locations, and numbers; and the
town can—or might have to—designate an area for public moorings, including some
This is the last call to complete the survey for the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee. At the committee’s May 23 meeting, Scott Hastings, Town Planner, told the committee that they had 160 responses so far. Please take the time to fill out the survey here. Hastings has also had input from New Gloucester high school students from a listening event he led with 134 participants. The committee also held an open house on May 9 at the Meetinghouse and gathered input from a few residents who dropped by. Hastings will report the survey results to the committee at their June 13 meeting.
At the May 23 meeting, Scott presented Jean Libby, committee
member, with a plaque and certificate from the Maine Association of Planners. Libby was selected as the “Citizen Planner of
the Year for the State of Maine.” Hastings
proudly commented to Jean: “Several citizens submitted a very strong
application for you, along with several support letters.” Jean was visibly taken back by the award and
was very humble in saying, “I’m just a cog in the wheel.” Her fellow committee members celebrated her
recognition and heartily congratulated her.
The meeting got underway with a review discussion of the
town’s utility infrastructure since several committee members were away when
the topic was addressed at a previous meeting.
Discussion centered on broadband availability. Committee member Terry DeWan asked, “How does
internet and broadband fit into the Comprehensive Plan?” Hastings explained that it helps with planning
business zones and supports business growth with in-home businesses.
Some 40 voters from New Gloucester and Gray, six of whom were members of the school board, approved a proposed $27.8 million school budget for fiscal 2019-20 at a district-wide ‘town meeting’ on Wednesday May 23 at GNG High School. The budget, reflecting an increase of 3.96 percent over the current budget, now moves to a referendum vote on Tuesday June 11. At that same June 11 vote, New Gloucester residents will also choose members of the town select board and the school board and decide whether to establish a town charter commission.
At the May 23 district meeting, the individual school budget articles saw only a smattering of opposition. The article to appropriate $3.9 million in additional local funds, voted on by secret ballot, drew the strongest resistance but passed with 30 votes in favor and 8 opposed.
During the public hearing phase of the meeting, several residents
questioned the reduction of a music position to half-time status and the resulting
impact on courses and extracurricular opportunities at the high school. Gray resident Mel Craig thanked the board for
partially restoring the position that had been slated for elimination, but said
that even a half-reduction would diminish students’ access to a rigorous curriculum. Craig said her son and other students would
be forced to choose between Advanced Placement courses and the arts activities
needed to earn a visual and performing arts endorsement with their diplomas. J.D. Domas expressed related concerns that
the cut in music staff would adversely affect students’ ability to prepare for
and participate in all-state and district ensembles.
Superintendent Craig King defended the music position decision,
noting that the budget had been developed over four months of budget meetings
and workshops and that “no stipends have been touched” that would reduce extracurricular
support. Craig added, “We offer as much
as we can” but acknowledged that a high school with fewer than 600 students “is
going to have some limitations.”
Mitch Berkowitz of Gray and Norm Beauparlant of Poland joined New Gloucester residents for a conversation about town charters on May 15 at the meetinghouse. Berkowitz, former town manager of Bridgton, Gray, and other communities, shared his perspective from having served in towns with and without charters. Beauparlant, vice chair of Poland’s former charter commission, focused on the charter process and what Poland residents chose to change and retain in their 2009 charter.
The discussion offered voters a chance to ask questions and hear from near neighbors–“neither pro or con,” and with “no skin in the game,” as Berkowitz put it–ahead of New Gloucester’s June 11 referendum vote on whether to establish a town charter commission.
Video of the charter conversation with Berkowitz and Beauparlant is available on demand at this link and will be broadcast on NGTV Channel 1302 until election day, Tuesday June 11. The detailed broadcast schedule is available below.