Presque Isle City Council completes summer schedule

Kathy McCarty, Special to The County
17 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – City Council recently completely its summer sessions and is preparing to return to its fall schedule of bi-weekly meetings beginning September 5 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.    Councilors discussed a variety of issues, including the following items:
• Councilors considered amendments to Chapter 38 B – Life Safety Ordinance to update from the 2003 edition to the 2006 edition of the national code. Fire Chief Darrell White and Code Enforcement Officer Jerry McAvaddy were on hand and explained to councilors the benefits of updating the code, emphasizing how the use of sprinkler systems would reduce property damage and save money in the long run for property owners. A local woman expressed concern about the added cost a sprinkler system would contribute to the overall fee of constructing a new home. Councilors voted to table the discussion until a future session to give White and McAvaddy time to gather more data on the matter;
• Approved amendments to Chapter 16 of the Land Use and Development Code pertaining to non-significant wetlands;
•  Approved an amendment to Chapter 16 of the Land Use and Development Code to increase the number of copies required for subdivision application submission from three to 10;
• Heard a presentation from a Honeywell representative on a mini-retrofit program for the Forum that would serve as cost-saving measures by improving heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems already in place;
• Heard an update from members of the Downtown Revitalization Committee on progress being made downtown, where the Committee sees the city going in the future and what the Council and city can do to help the progress continue. Councilors discussed proposed bylaw changes and loan guidelines for the Downtown Revitalization Program from the Presque Isle Development Fund;
• Chris Beaulieu, director of the Rec Department, and Kevin Sipe, chairman of the Community Center Committee, gave Council an update on efforts to locate a site for a new recreation center and design ideas the Committee is considering. No definite location has been determined but options have been narrowed down to four sites, including: property adjacent to UMPI off the Houlton Road; the former Fairview Acres property off Parsons Street; a parcel between Green Hill Drive and Mantle Lake; and the area around the Presque Isle District Court. Talks continue on the project;
• Councilors approved the discontinuance of the light at the intersection of Church and Main streets. Gerry James, director of the Public Works Department, indicated it would be less costly for the city to turn off and remove the lights but leave the poles in place, rather than remove everything. With the police and fire departments no longer located on Church Street, a reduction in traffic in that area was given as the primary reason for removing the light. Traffic can now travel north and south on Main Street with one less light to stop for, while motorists traveling Church Street must use caution when turning on or off Route 1;
• Councilors approved the purchase of a shop equipment lift for the Public Works Department;
• Councilors favored funding demolition costs of the former Cunningham Middle School from the Presque Isle Development Fund;
• Approved a pole application by Maine Public Service Company for the Marston Road;
• Considered renewal of a scrap metal recycling contract for the Solid Waste Department; approved short-term financing for construction at the city’s landfill. Work is currently being done to improve drainage and address drainage problems at the site. Councilors also approved a bid for work on closure of a side slope at the landfill;
• Discussed renovations at City Hall with the City Hall Renovations Committee. Due to the increased need for space and to better accommodate each department’s staff, plans are under way to move some offices around, with some structural work being considered. Councilors discussed the possibility of having to ask the Water Department to move to another location to provide needed space for City Hall needs;
• Councilors were advised that dog owners had been contacted to license their dogs and those on record had done so;
• Approved the consent agenda of City Council’s meeting minutes of June 4, written departmental reports for May and 2007 Warrants 22-25 totaling just over $1,595,049;
• Ron Smith, principle of H.R. Smith, and Kristie Bradbury were present to provide a synopsis of the 2006 Audit report. As a result, a management letter was submitted to councilors with recommendations. The city was in a great position financially as of December 31, 2006. Smith made the recommendation that the city change the fiscal year from a calendar year to a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year. This would require a 12-month budget and a six-month budget for 2009. An Audit Committee meeting will be held September 5 at City Hall to further discuss the matter;
• Council voted in favor of releasing former Tax Collector Sharon Willette from tax commitment and recommit taxes to new Tax Collector Deborah Ouellette and approve certificate of settlement for 1999 to 2007 and recommitment of just over $10,209,760 effective August 6;
• Council listened to a presentation by Ray Faucher, of the Maine Department of Transportation on Aroostook County Transportation Study. Faucher provided an update regarding the bypass around Presque Isle, the Corridor Management Plan, Maysville Street Community Livability Transportation Grant and the Downtown Traffic Survey. A lengthy discussion evolved around the different options there were regarding the proposed bypass. Faucher anticipated a public hearing would be scheduled for October. Duane Scott was hired by the DOT to oversee the Corridor Management Plan and is now finalizing contract negotiations with Northern Maine Development Commission to assist in doing so. Dale Doughty will be contacting the city by letter identifying the approval of $10,000 toward designated planning projects for Presque Isle. A project manager will be assigned to work with the community. RKG (an economic planning firm) are consultants who are planning to be in the area to conduct their field work and survey in September for the Downtown Traffic Study;
• Public Works Director Gerry James gave a follow-up on refurbishing trucks within the department. He stated that this process was an education, to determine whether it is better to actually replace the vehicle instead of refurbishing the vehicle. It was noted that there was a need to obtain tighter estimates;
• City Manager Tom Stevens and Councilor G. Melvin Hovey spoke on a proposed succession plan report. While the police and fire departments, due to their larger staffs, lend themselves to such a plan and might work well with such in place, not all departments, given their size and duties, would necessarily be able to make one work;
• Council considered a funding request to County of Aroostook for support of the airport for 2008, with a request from the city to the county seeking $25,000 being made for the Northern Maine Regional Airport;
• Councilors supported the city’s acquisition for a portion of the Canadian Pacific Railroad by the state of Maine; and
• Councilors approved consent agenda of City Council meeting minutes of July 9 and July 23; 2007 Warrants 26-30 totaling just over $1,833,923 and written departmental reports for June 2007.
City Council will meet September 5 at City Hall at 6 p.m. For more information, contact 764-4485.
Sessions are open to the public and citizens are encouraged to attend and participate.