Distance yourselves at Snow Bowl, parks; stop flushing wipes down the toilet

Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell outlines Camden’s response to COVID-19

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 11:30am

The following municipal update came from Camden Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell: I understand everyone wants to know more about what to expect in the coming days and weeks so I will to do my best to provide what information I can, specifically as it relates to our Town.  There are still a lot of unknowns that impact Camden, but I will share with you updates on Town operations, public health recommendations and other information and resources that can be helpful to our residents and businesses. 

In response to guidance from the US CDC, the Maine CDC, and our Governor, as of today, I have extended the closure of all Town Departments to the public indefinitely, pending guidance from the State. 

Each department will go to a staffing plan that makes sense for the type of work that they do and the essential services they provide. 

Staff will still be checking emails, picking up mail and responding to phone calls.  If you need contact information, I refer you to the Town’s website at www.Camdenmaine.gov.  I take this measure to safeguard our staff, the public, and allow for continuity in maintaining services in the long term.  

Camden, like other communities in Maine, has a high percentage of citizens that reside here on a seasonal basis. 

Recently we have seen an increase in the return of seasonal residents, which is unusual for this time of year.  We are asking that all residents of Camden, whether seasonal or year-round adhere closely to the CDC guidelines.  This includes eliminating any unnecessary travel from your schedule, whether in-town or out of state. 

That all citizens adhere to social distancing.  This means not gathering in groups of 10 or larger and maintain a distance of 6’ or more between people.  If you have been traveling out of state, out of the country, or are not feeling well, we ask that you stay home and self-isolate for at least 14 days.  These measures are meant to flatten the curve, stop the spread of the virus and allow our health care system to not exceed its capacity to care for those in need.  

One piece of advice that has been offered is for everyone to stay healthy by eating nutritious meals and continuing to exercise. 

This past weekend offered some sunny weather and we saw several people taking advantage of our public open spaces such as the Snow Bowl, Maiden’s Cliff and the Camden Hills State Park.  We think that being outdoors is a great way to destress, access fresh air and get some vitamin D. 

What we can’t have happen is for people to all congregate to one area and overcrowd a resource, making social distancing difficult to impossible. 

I am strongly encouraging all residents to take measures to ensure that we can maintain social distancing while outside so that the Town may maintain the open feel of our community, whether this is on the trails, sidewalks, or at the beach.  If we are not able to abide by this social contract the Town may be forced into taking additional measures to safeguard our population. 

Please abide by these rules and be mindful in your daily activities. 

Public distancing measures have caused challenges in holding public meetings. Last week the Maine legislature adopted changes to public meetings law to allow for remote meeting participation.  Tonight, the Select Board will hold their first virtual meeting.  This will be accomplished through the meeting platform zoom.  The public will still be able to watch the meeting on Cable TV Channel 1303 and also on YouTube at Town of Camden Maine: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQcfOqlOxhtcKblSat47-Ag/videos?disable_polymer=1 . 

Camden’s Budget Committee will also resume their Thursday night 6:30pm meetings via zoom.

In addition, the public can provide comments via YouTube or email.  Please email TOCselectboard@camdenmaine.gov or acaler-bell@camdenmaine.gov.  Our agendas, which are posted the Thursday before our meetings on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month, include the information to allow the public to find the Zoom meeting.  Should you need further direction please email at acaler-bell@Camdenmaine.gov.

I would also like to take this opportunity to direct our small businesses to resources that may be helpful during this difficult time.  The Small Business Administration is offering working capital loans to help small businesses meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  For more information please contact our Planning & Development Director, Jeremy Martin, at jmartin@camdenmaine.gov or 207-930-5431.  You can also find more information on the SBA’s disaster loan assistance website: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/

We have compiled a list of resources that community members can access on the Town’s website: https://www.camdenmaine.gov/vertical/sites/%7B12179FA6-CABE-432E-868D-862BE81D9F03%7D/uploads/COVID_resources1.pdf.  We have several community groups that are coordinating additional resources for residents who have been impacted, which I will distribute information for as soon as it’s available.

One last request from our wastewater department, with the onset of Covid-19, we are experiencing an increase in people flushing wipes into the sewer.  Even wipes that are marketed as flushable are not acceptable to flush at any time and are a major cause of pump failure and emergency responses from our staff. Please dispose of all wipes, clothing, towels in the trash and not in the toilet. This will save the Wastewater Department and the ratepayers from expensive service and equipment costs. This is especially critical now as we could be experiencing labor shortages. We appreciate your support.  

I understand the strain this situation is placing on individuals and the community at large. 

I am proud of how serious and responsible Camden’s residents and businesses are being in the face of this challenge.  By practicing social distancing, and quarantining yourselves when necessary, you’re demonstrating a commitment to protecting the most vulnerable amongst us at the sake of your own comfort, and often financial security. I know during these challenging times we’ll continue to be kind to one another, be patient, share resources, and don’t hoard supplies that are badly needed by the many.  This may last longer than when all want, but it certainly won’t last forever.  When this is over, we’ll be a much stronger community for working together to take care of one another.