Camden Town Manager’s Report: New Snow Bowl culvert, Sagamore Farm and Tannery updates, rat remediation

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 8:15pm

    CAMDEN — Audra Caler, Camden Town Manager, issued her Oct. 16 municipal update in advance of the Select Board’s Oct. 20 meeting.

    Committee Feedback Survey
    To improve the effectiveness of our committee structure, the Town has prepared a survey that asks current committee members, past committee members, and/or residents who have never served on a Town committee, to provide feedback.  We are trying to determine ways to improve resident participation in local government, how to better utilize the skills and knowledge of our community members and ensure the work of committees aligns with the broader goals and priorities the Select Board has identified for the Town.

    Please participate in this survey:  

    Your feedback is much needed and greatly appreciated!

    Route 1 Drainage and Pedestrian Improvement Project
    The Maine Department of Transportation has scheduled this project, which entails replacing stormwater infrastructure from the Stop ‘n Go to the Public Landing and improving the sidewalks along this stretch of route 1, to begin on October 26th.  The project will begin with the installation of the outflow pipe, which will run through the alleyway between Sea Dog (1 Main St.) and 5 Main St. through the upper portion of the Public Landing parking area, out into the harbor at the base of the southerly facing waterfall.

    The Town will work with MDOT to try and inform businesses and residents about the progress of this project and any potential disruptions that may occur.  

    Absentee Voting
    If you have not already requested absentee ballots for Local, State and Federal elections/referenda, please do so!  Voting absentee is not only more convenient, it’s also safer.  You can request your absentee ballot by calling the Town Office: 207-236-3353 X7116, emailing our Town Clerk, or going to this website: 

    Finance Department

    Real estate tax collection for the 2020-2021 fiscal year is at about 44%, which is parallel to last year’s collection percentage rate.  We continue to see a steady influx of tax payments thru the mail as well as online receipts.  

    Auto excise tax collection for the 2020-2021 fiscal year is at about 44%, compared to last year’s collection rate of 36%.

    Our office has mailed/handed out about 2,500 absentee ballots to registered Camden voters.  We’ve received about 1,600 of those completed ballots back so far.

    Similar to July 18 Election/Town Meeting at the Camden Public Safety Building, we have chosen to once again utilize town staff to help at the polls for the November 3 Election.  Our decision to do so makes sense because we all work together at least 40 hours a week and will help to minimize outside contact for our usual poll workers during this pandemic.  We appreciate the many, many offers received from those who want to volunteer at the polls.  Fingers crossed; we will be able to welcome them back next year!

    The Camden Town Office will be closed to the public on Tuesday, November 3 and will reopen at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 4.

    Planning & Development

    The planning and development department is currently seeking a new code enforcement officer as Steve Wilson has taken a job with the city of Belfast.   We will miss Steve, but we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.  We are working diligently to provide the services that our community has come to expect, and hope to have a new code enforcement officer on staff by Thanksgiving.   In the meantime, we have contracted with Mo Dube-Fortin to provide plumbing and subsurface waster system permitting and  inspections services, and will be contracting with a local architect to provide plan review services.   

    Snow Bowl Access Road
    The stream crossing project on the access road has been completed.  With the assistance of a $95,000 stream crossing grant from the Maine DEP, the Town replaced the failing double culvert stream crossing with an open bottom culvert.  The new stream crossing structure promotes the natural movements of fish and wildlife and normal stream processes that support healthy habitat in diverse flow conditions.  The Town also paved the access road and improved stormwater related  infrastructure. 

    As part of our efforts to cleanup and redevelop  the contaminated site  the Town issued a Request for Proposals.   Those proposals are due by Wednesday October 21.    

    The RFP does provide for the continued use of a portion of the site by the Camden Farmer’s Market, as well as the continued Town ownership of the Riverwalk area.  Once the proposals are received, the proposals will be reviewed and discussed in public.  

    There will be ample opportunity for public engagement and comment.   

    Town voter support will be critical to the successful cleanup and redevelopment of the site.     Once there is consensus on the redevelopment, our environmental consultants will develop a revised Analysis of Brownfield Clean Up Alternatives (ABCA) Plan and Remedial Action Plan, as required by the EPA.  In addition, they will  also develop a Site-Specific Quality Assurance Project Plan (SSQAP), a Health and Safety Plan(H&S), as well as a Community Relations Plan (CRP), as required by the USEPA.  Throughout this process there will be ample opportunity for public involvement and comment.    

    Sagamore Farm
    The select board has directed the Planning and Development Director to issue a request for expressions of interest in the Sagamore Farm property.    The property has recently been surveyed, and a vernal pool/wetland assessment has also been completed.   In addition, the Town worked with a traffic engineer  to develop a traffic impact study in advance of any development proposals.   This traffic study assessed potential uses and whether or not certain uses would warrant any off-site traffic improvements.  

    7 Willow Street
    The Town acquired 7 Willow St. for matured tax liens and is preparing to issue a request for interest in the property.  The Town understands that the building is a blight on the neighborhood and is seeking a developer to rehabilitate the property with an additional goal of providing affordable housing opportunities.   


    Wastewater Department

    West Dam
    Cavanaugh Marine is currently finalizing repairs to the West Dam.  

    Wastewater Treatment Plant
    The Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade project is currently out to bid.  Bids are due on 10/29/2020 at 2 p.m. 

    Parks Department

    Snow Bowl has a new culvert, and the access road is newly paved.  Thanks to Camden public works for all their help on this project.

    Fall foliage chairlift rides continue to be a success – future rides October 25th and a special Halloween chairlift ride October 31, 11-2 p.m. Come in safe riding costumes.

    Snow Bowl re-opening plan

    Early Bird season passes are on sale now through October 31.

    Parks and recreation department continues to talk with engineering for the improvement to Shirttail Point Park


    Fire Department

    Fire Department Updates

    During the month of September we conducted a training session with the Ragged Mountain Ski Patrol on chair lift evacuation procedures at the Snow Bowl. 

    We also assisted with the successfully accomplished Megunticook 50K trail run in the Camden Hills State Park.

    This month our training is being conducted with our partners in Rockport, Lincolnville and Hope. We are utilizing equipment provided by the Maine Fire Service Institute. 

    We are in the beginning stages of planning and coordinating a Knox County Firefighter I & II program. We currently have 4 new personnel who will be participating in the program.

    Personnel are continuing to work on their EMS education.

    With a vacancy in the Code Enforcement Office, we're anticipating assisting the Planning & Development Office when needed.

    One of our most active on-call Firefighters enlisted in the US Air Force this summer. We have felt the loss of his presence. We continue our attempts to actively recruit new personnel. Over the last several weeks, we have talked with 4 people about becoming involved with the Department, but that hasn't come to fruition yet. 


    Public Health

    Continue to monitor the rat remediation plan for the Chestnut Hill area on a weekly basis. 

    Remain current with Knox EMA and Mid Coast Public Health Officers activities pertaining to the current, on-going pandemic situation. 


    Emergency Management

    As cold weather approaches we are reviewing and renewing our collaborative efforts to provide warming shelters for the community when needed. Warming shelters currently identified in the town's Emergency Operations Plan are the First Congregational Church as the primary location and the Opera House as a secondary location. 

    Last week we assisted CMP personnel with locating the power outage which affected most of downtown on Friday afternoon. 

    Police Department
    The following reflects statistics from Police Department files from September 1 to October 14, 2020.  The statistics listed reflect a partial listing of the total number received. The complaints listed denote those which are used for reporting purposes or had a significant amount reported to the police during this period. 

    • The Department will be participating in the National Drug Take Back initiative on October 24th from 10am to 2pm. Officer Mark Bennett will also be conducting a child safety seat checkpoint on October 24th during the same time. Both events will be held at the Camden Public Safety complex.
    • Department continues COVID foot patrols in the downtown business area
    • Officer Mark Bennett received training on installation of Child Safety Seats, now certified Child Safety Seat installation
    • Officers Mark Bennet and Paul Thompson received certificates from the Reid School for Police Interview Techniques
    • Sergeants Allen Weaver, Wes Butler and Curt Andrick along with Rockport Officer Tony Del Vecchio attending the FBI LEEDA Supervisory Command Leadership course
    • Camden Officers are all completing the required JPMA online educational modules
    • All Officers have attended the semi-annual marksmanship weapons qualifications on their service weapons
    • 795 Total complaints received during this period
      •   49 Responses to 911 hang up / open line 
      •   33 Agency Assist calls
      •   32 Alarm responses
      •   22  Animal complaints; 9 animal problem, 3 animal noise, 7 animal welfare & 3   animal bite or attacks
      •     7 Citizen Assist
      •     6 Criminal Mischief
      •     9 Domestic
      •   15      Drug Take Back
      •     2 DUI Alcohol/Drugs
      •   39 Foot Patrol
      •     5 Haz Mat Responses
      •   23 Information Complaints
      •     6 Intoxicated Persons
      •     6      Juvenile Problem
      •     5 Mental Health Issues
      •     1 Overdose
      • 193 Property Checks
      •   20 Traffic Accidents; 17 w/Damage and 3 w/Injuries
      •     3 Traffic Erratic Operation
      •   39 Radar details
      •   13 Suspicious Persons/Circumstances
      •   14 Theft
      •   58 Well Being checks


    Opera House

    Starting in August the Camden Opera House has been presenting a new safe concert series called SoundCheck: 45 tickets spread out in a 300-seat area (balcony closed), all safety protocols including masks, touch-less ticketing, direct-access assigned seating, hand sanitizer stations, and increased outside air in the HVAC system. We feature Maine artists, and all shows are live streamed for free. So far we have had twelve shows, and the response from both artists and attendees has been overwhelmingly positive. Many of these shows have been sold out, and we've received over 6,600 live stream views. We have shows booked through the end of the year, including a Holiday show on December 11.

    While the State has said that it is permissible to increase number of attendees to half of your capacity or one hundred people, whichever is smaller, we will be continuing with SoundCheck in it's present form in order to offer the safest and most comfortable experience possible.