Boothbay Harbor selectmen

Busy meeting serves up volley of emotions

New chair, vice chair; Sewer District gets letter of support
Tue, 05/14/2019 - 4:30pm

Selectmen welcomed newcomer Ken Fitch to the board and elected a new chair, Mike Tomko, and vice chair, Tricia Warren, May 13. The board also fielded a letter signed by 56 pickleball athletes urging it to reconsider lining the Emery Lane basketball court with two pickleball courts instead of one.

Resident Merritt Blakeslee spoke for the athletes. Several were in attendance. The request includes offsetting extra costs estimated to be about $300, honoring any signage designating preference to basketball players on the basketball court, and lining the two courts instead of one. Blakeslee reminded selectmen two courts were part of the plan at one point.

Town Manager Tom Woodin said there have been a few changes since this process started three years ago, namely the size of the court first planned as a National Basketball Association full-sized court on 104' x 65'; current plans have downsized the court to high school dimensions of 84' x 50'.

“We've also said, ‛Let's give it some time and see how the usage goes,’” said Woodin. “I don't see what the harm is in holding off a year.”

Several pickleball players spoke on a need for a third court. With the board voting 1-4 against changing current line-placing plans, Tomko offered the only vote in support.

Boothbay Harbor Sewer District Superintendent Chris Higgins asked for a letter of support for pending charter amendments which are at the reviser's office at the State Legislature.

Higgins said the biggest change affecting both towns is the addition of a proper seat on the BHSD Board of Trustees for Boothbay. In 1992, when the legislature allowed expansion from the Boothbay town line to Big Al's Storage, a proper seat on the BHSD Board of Trustees for Boothbay was not part of it, although Boothbay residents could seek a seat on the board.

“… Anybody from either town can sign the nomination papers,” said Higgins. “The town clerk from Boothbay Harbor has to certify all those signatures meaning she has to get a voting list from Boothbay and it's just – very cumbersome.”

The charter seeks to provide one seat for Boothbay; two will remain in Boothbay Harbor. If the legislature passes the proposed amendments, the vision is to have local referendums in November for both towns, Higgins said.

Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission's Mary Ellen Barnes spoke on the possibilities involved in getting a harbor master plan, one of the long-term, back burner items for the planning board and selectmen for over a year.

Said Barnes, “What we wanted to really talk about with the select board and the citizens is how broad of a harbor management plan or planning process that might involve the downtown do you folks want to take on now?”

Fitch said he had hoped there would be a comprehensive look at the harbor and suggested selectmen and planning board members may want to soon establish a subcommittee to explore options, funding and other resources.

Selectman Denise Griffin noted that while it will be important to continue looking at the water and shore issues of the harbor, the town would be remiss to overlook issues on land, specifically parking.

Said Tomko, “This is exciting stuff. We've got an opportunity to take what we have and work our craft towards the future.”

Announcements, wharf application

The Anne M. Ruping Exempt Family Trust, represented by Lauren Stockwell, was approved for changes to waterfront docking at 21 Barrows Road. Stockwell listed a 12' x 4' ramp, 59 'x 6' wide pier, 34' x 3' runway, a 10' x 20' float, and a skidway to pull in floats for storage.

“It meets all the setbacks, they've got their DEP approval and the Army Corps of Engineers permits. They don't need a submerged lands (permit) because they meet the seasonal exemption,” said Stockwell.

With no correspondence of objection from abutters, the board voted unanimously to approve the application.

Woodin said a couple of harbor master applicants look promising. There are also two seats available on the Board of Appeals, two on the Port Committee, and one on the Budget Committee.

“We do have a fair number of applicants, but we always welcome more,” said Woodin.

Selectmen meet next at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 28 at the town office.