Comprehensive Plan Survey Still Open; Comp Plan Update Committee Cheers for Jean Libby, Discusses Town Infrastructure, Staffing

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.

Solid waste facilities were briefly commented on next.  Hastings has yet to dig into the details in depth.  Town Manager Carrie Castonguay mentioned that the town is a member municipality of Mid-Maine Waste Action Corporation (MMWAC) which has purchased a sorting machine that eliminates an additional ton of metal ash for New Gloucester.  This saves the town money, and MMWAC is anticipating a two-year payback. Composting was brought up as a possible added service. 

Peter Bragdon moved the discussion to staffing when he asked Castonguay about staffing requirements for the town.  She explained that the current staff is working at full capacity, given the large number of transactions handled annually.  Committee member Steve Chandler provided a perspective on past staffing levels and mentioned that the town’s current low staffing levels are a result of the 2008 nationwide financial bubble.  He added, “We had to reduce staff and now we are paying the piper.”  Committee chair Don Libby reminded the committee that revenues decreased during that time and the “underlying snake in the ground is taxes.”  He suggested that New Gloucester needs to put money away for growth, not just for capital improvement program items.   

Hastings then moved the conversation to a brief overview of the schools.  Since 2013, the GNG school district has decreased by 100 students.  He mentioned that New Gloucester has a high percentage of home-schooled children.  The school age population has grown, but not to the extent that the overall town population has increased. 

The meeting closed with Hastings mentioning a law recently passed by the Legislature to add “Age-Friendly Communities” as a topic for comprehensive plans.  He mentioned that the topic has been woven in past committee discussions and that it will be decided where it belongs during the drafting process.  

The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for June 13 at 6:30 pm at the Meetinghouse.  For more information and to sign up for ongoing email updates on the comprehensive plan work, contact Town Planner Scott Hastings at or (207)926-4126 ext 4.

Video of the full May 23 meeting is available here.  Materials and videos for this and other meetings can be found on the NG website:

                                              — Reported by Anne Maurice; edited by NGX