October brought new Maine Center for Disease Control indoor regulations for public gatherings. The change resulted in Boothbay’s selectmen wearing masks for their Oct. 14 board meeting. Selectmen Steve Lewis, Dale Harmon and Chuck Cunningham along with Town Manager Dan Bryer wore masks in the conference room. Selectman Desiree Scorcia attended online and Mike Tomacelli was absent due to a work-related issue, according to Bryer.
Bryer discovered the change earlier this month while reviewing the state’s CDC updated guidelines. Last month, selectmen returned to meeting in the conference room, but restricted public participation to a Zoom conference. Bryer didn’t know if the new regulations would allow for public attendance. “I don’t know. I’m still researching that,” he said.
The ongoing pandemic has also had a major impact on voting. With Election Day less than three weeks away, Bryer reported Boothbay voters are making a beeline for the polls requesting absent ballots. He reported 1,064 out of 2,688 registered voters had requested absentee ballots, with 663 returned. Even with a large number of residents seeking ballots, Bryer expects a busy Election Day. “There are still over 400 absentee ballots still out there and I expect a large turnout on Election Day, too. This election whether it’s the presidential or local race is generating a lot of interest,” he said.
Like the July Primary, Bryer expects the old Town Hall to serve as the polling place. With pandemic social distancing in effect, Bryer recommended renting a tent and a couple heaters to accommodate a potential long line of Nov. 3 voters. For those who don’t want to wait in line, Bryer recommended voting early at the town office. “It’s the fastest means of voting and you can do it all at the town office. You hand it over to the clerk and she makes sure everything is done properly. I can’t think of a safer way to vote,” he said.
For those who want an absentee ballot, but don’t want to vote at the town office, Boothbay has bought an outside ballot box so residents can return their ballots during non-business hours. Bryer estimates it holds about 60 absentee ballot envelopes and is emptied prior to the next work day.
In other action, selectmen are considering forming a new broadband and cable television committee. Lewis recommended it consist of selectmen. “I don’t think with the corona(virus) we could get a committee of citizens. So to start, I think we should form it,” he said. Tomacelli and Lewis plan on touring the underserved cable television areas in town in preparation for a meeting with Spectrum. Bryer confirmed Spectrum representatives would attend the next meeting to discuss a new franchise agreement.
In his reports, Bryer updated selectmen on upcoming paving projects. He reported paving Paradise Point is the next public works road project. “It’s probably the worst of our roads, but it doesn’t receive much attention because it’s sparsely populated,” he said.
Bryer urged selectmen to create a new road list for paving projects during the next 10 years. He also reported another light pole was knocked over by a motorist. This was the third light pole broken in over a year and none had been replaced. “Dealing with insurance companies has slowed things down, but the manufacturer is also short on supply,” he said.
Selectmen discussed buying three new light poles and possibly as many as three more to serve as backups. The board considered using tax increment financing funds to pay for new poles. Selectmen also considered establishing a special account for using TIF funds to pay for light pole, curb and sidewalk repairs which would be replenished by future insurance payments.
Selectmen meet next at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28 in the municipal building’s conference room.