Boothbay opens municipal building to residents

Sun, 07/12/2020 - 8:30am
For those who haven’t been in Boothbay’s municipal office lately, you may need a road map. Due to social distancing requirements, the building has been reconfigured. The front door is no longer an entrance. It is now an exit. Residents now enter from the side door, and the entire building is now one-way traffic to ensure a safe distance between residents and employees.
During the July 8 selectmen’s meeting, Town Manager Dan Bryer discussed several changes within the business and code enforcement offices to make completing municipal business as safe and efficient as possible. The town office reopened July 1 as part of phase 2 of Gov. Janet Mills’ reopening plan. For those residents still leery about entering the building, public works placed bins on a 2-foot by 12-foot platform outside the business and code enforcement windows, for people to pass documents.
“It’s working as well as possible, but it is still a work in progress,” Bryer said.
In other action, Bryer talked about the municipal and primary elections set for Tuesday, July 14. In recent weeks, the town clerk has been busy processing over 600 absentee ballots. “That’s about a whole election for either a (May) municipal or (June) primary so I don’t know how many will vote on Tuesday,” he said.
With one election less than a week away, selectmen were planning for the next one in November. Selectmen received the first draft of municipal ordinance revisions recently reviewed by town attorney Sally Daggett. Boothbay is also waiting for the Department of Environmental Protection Agency to forward its comments on revisions. Selectmen want to submit a final version in time for residents to vote this fall.
“We need to work backwards and make sure it’s finished in time for the public hearings. This just can’t wait until May,” Selectman Steve Lewis said.
Selectmen voted unanimously to allow the planning board to continue using consultant Mark Eyerman in implementing Daggett’s and DEP’s recommendations into the final draft. Selectman Mike Tomacelli was a planning board member in 2015 when it began working to revise the ordinances. He continued to follow progress when he became a selectman in 2017. Tomacelli predicted it would take two workshops for the planning board to incorporate recommended changes.
Selectmen also want to place a second item on the November ballot. Local businessman Paul Coulombe has offered to give the restrooms near the Boothbay Common to the town. Prior to placing the proposal before voters, selectmen want to review annual restroom maintenance costs.  The offer doesn’t include a nearby parking lot. Selectmen directed Bryer to see if the proposal meets current municipal lot size requirements.
Selectmen also voted 5-0 to withdraw from their agreement with Boothbay Harbor to continue with the Joint Economic Development Committee, which began in 2014. In recent years, officials from both towns have questioned the committee’s relevance.
“I think it’s run its course,” said Selectman and JEDC member Dale Harmon. “We’ve hit the same wall for the past two years, and until there is another mission, maybe then we can re-establish it.”
On July 10, Bryer reported the town’s JEDC funds would likely remain in the account until another joint project appeared.
This was Kristina Ford’s last meeting as a selectman. Her and Tomacelli’s terms expire this year. Tomacelli is running for re-election, and she is not. Ford finished her final meeting with three final thoughts. The first was recognizing Bryer’s service to the selectmen, planning board and JEDC as “someone who gets things done.” She also praised selectmen for their knowledge of municipal issues and needs.
“During the many executive sessions we had, everybody spoke openly. You showed your expertise and knowledge, and I’d like to see more of that,” she said.
The third was for town officials to realize Boothbay and the entire world are changing. “You need to recognize just because you’ve done something in the past, it may not be right for a changing town or world,” Ford said. She advised selectmen to participate more in Maine Municipal Association training sessions.
Lewis presented her with a bouquet of flowers and a gift certificate from the board. He also praised Ford for her service to the town.
“We had a rough beginning, and to be honest, I thought ‘What do we have here for the next three years,’” he said. “But, we had a conversation, and I tell you, it’s been a real pleasure. You’re a bundle of knowledge and we are going to miss you.”
Selectmen meet next at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22 in the municipal building’s conference room.