Government Spotlight

Lower Village safety, Upper Village water tower site; library director to depart

| Joanne Cole |

The select board made comparatively quick work of action items at their October 4 meeting.  In the absence of chair Peter Bragdon, vice chair Paul Larrivee wielded the gavel in the hour-long meeting. 

Before tackling their agenda, the board learned from Town Manager Christine Landes that Library Director Lee Shaw is resigning effective October 20. Landes shared the news with regret and wished Shaw well. He has served in the position since February.

Safety in the Lower Village. Member Tammy Donovan, select board liaison to the Public Safety Committee, reported out the safety committee’s recent recommendations for improved signage and safety measures in the Lower Village, especially at the Route 231 intersection. The safety committee recommended replacing the flashing stop signs with larger reflective signs, a larger stop sign for the Church Road/Gloucester Hill Road intersection, adding reflective strips to posts, trimming vegetation, and painting stop lines, among other measures.

Donovan explained that after the safety committee made its recommendations she’d spoken with Public Works Director Ted Shane. Shane said that MDOT needs to be consulted on signage at state route intersections. That news left select board members unsure whether they could remove the flashing stop signs that weren’t authorized by the select board or MDOT in the first place and proceed with trimming vegetation and other actions. Landes will confer with MDOT and report back.

Upper Village water tower site. Adequacy of the public water supply for the Upper Village is an acknowledged long-term concern, one that might be solved with a water tower. Town-owned property on or near the site of the former public works garage is a practical spot for such a tower, so the board has been discussing how best to retain a site—easement or ownership—should a sale or development in the Upper Village go forward.

After discussion at this meeting, sentiment shifted away from securing an easement and toward retaining ownership of a one-acre cutout for a tower site. Vice chair Paul Larrivee questioned whether an acre might not be large enough for a tower and shed. Other considerations for “the perfect spot,” according to Larrivee: water pressure and access for maintenance and underground pipes. Manager Landes to consult with assessors’ agents O’Donnell & Associates and with chair of the NG Water District Norm Chamberlain to determine the size and location of the needed parcel, and report back.

The board also

• Declined to take action on a proposal to begin select board meetings at 6:30 pm instead of 7 pm. Peter Bragdon had floated the trial balloon. Board members noted the earlier start would have pulled staff off the service desk at Town Hall and potentially conflicted with other late afternoon and early evening town committee meetings on Mondays;

• Tended to a matter occasioned by new legislation from Augusta providing additional flexibility for certain qualifying public employees to choose a pension plan. Three New Gloucester employees are affected. The board voted to make the new rules take effect with the start of the next fiscal year July 1.

• Selected Preti Flaherty to serve as town attorneys on new matters going forward. Bernstein Shur, the town’s longtime counsel, will continue with several ongoing matters;

• Declined to act on proposed different library open hours, pending next steps on library staffing following director Lee Shaw’s resignation;

• Declined a suggestion from town manager Christine Landes to save money by photocopying the Town Annual Report in-house instead of paying to have books printed. The town spends about $1200 to print 400 books each year, Landes said. Sentiment and tradition prevailed over cost-cutting. Expect a printed book again next year.

To view the October 4 meeting video, click here. To read the October 4 agenda associated documents, click here.