The Camden Select Board agreed at its meeting Jan. 5 to seek a policy that would discourage motorists from leaving their engines running. The board also began a review of its long-term strategic goals.

“An idling car, truck or bus gets no miles per gallon, pollutes the air, and burns gas and money to no benefit,” John Street resident Tom Hopps said. He said 10 seconds of idling uses the same amount of gasoline as does restarting a vehicle.

That assertion is confirmed by the California Energy Commission’s Web site at

“Fuel is only partially combusted when idling because an engine does not operate at its peak temperature,” the Web site states. “This leads to the buildup of fuel residues on cylinder walls that can damage engine components and increase fuel consumption.”

Jean Morrison of Thomas Street spoke in favor of the proposal, saying it would only impact passenger vehicles on public ways. She said the state of Maine already has laws to govern commercial and diesel truck and bus idling, and those who need to keep their engines running, such as police and fire personnel, would be exempt from such a policy.

Morrison and Hopps said they were not seeking an ordinance that would need to be enforced, but rather wanted to promote an educational campaign to inform residents and visitors to Camden of the harmful effects of leaving internal combustion engines running unnecessarily.

Some of the dangers they cited included toxic output of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and benzene, as well as the cost of wasted fuel. Morrison said fumes from cars add to the health hazards faced by Mainers.

Select Board member John French said that while he supported the idea, he had safety concerns, and shutting off engines in bank teller lines might cause problems if a car was running badly or was difficult to start.

French also suggested that stopping and restarting an engine could lead to maintenance problems.

“Frequent restarting has little impact on engine components like the battery and the starter motor,” the California Energy Commission’s Web site states. “Component wear caused by restarting the engine is estimated to add $10 per year to the cost of driving, money that will likely be recovered several times over in fuel savings from reduced idling.”

Hopps and Morrison said they were asking the town to produce a series of fliers or brochures that could be available at places where people commonly leave their cars running, such as the post office and convenience stores. They suggested police officers keep fliers available to give to drivers of vehicles they find idling during their regular duties, but said it was not expected that police would actively pursue idlers.

Morrison suggested that parents who drive their children to school would be a good target for an anti-idling information campaign.

Camden has had a policy since 2007 that discourages town employees from leaving their engines running unnecessarily.

The board agreed to consider the proposal, and asked Morrison and Hopps to review policies from other municipalities and to submit a suggested policy to Town Manager Roberta Smith for consideration.

Smith said funds for printing a first run of brochures could come from the contingency budget if the Select Board wanted to have them on hand before July. She said future printing costs might be allocated in the fiscal year 2011 budget she is currently working on.

In introducing the review of long-term strategic goals, Smith said the board needed to revisit pending matters annually in order to recognize where there was progress and where more work was needed.

Smith said that while many projects would have to wait for less constraining financial times, the town should be ready when money becomes available, and prioritizing goals is in line with the comprehensive plan.

Select Board member Anita Brosius-Scott opened the discussion by revisiting the Dec. 15 decision to accept the vision of the Community and Economic Development Advisory Committee in regards to creating a bypass to reduce traffic in Route 1. She referred to page 10 of the comprehensive plan.

“This plan does not support a local bypass to the downtown area,” that document states.

Select Board member Deborah Dodge said she saw no conflict between the comprehensive plan and CEDAC’s goals, and any discussion of a bypass would be held in the context of the Gateway 1 process that seeks a coordinated effort among all the Route 1 communities to relieve congestion along the coast.

Select Board Chairwoman Karen Grove said she wanted to maintain essential services for the town and listed her first priority as road repair and infrastructure, especially in locations where damage is not visible, such as underground. Grove’s other priority was ensuring that Camden has long-term, sustainable jobs.

Dodge listed increased participation by citizens in town affairs as her top goal. She called for better communication, both between committees and other governmental bodies, and from the town to residents and business entities. She said the town needs to encourage younger people to get involved in the committee work that often leads to participation on town boards.

This led to a discussion of the scheduling of committee meetings, many of which take place at times that are difficult for those with growing families. The members of each committee currently set meeting times.

Smith reported that her assistant, Janice Esancy, is in the process of working on a new Web site for the town using the GovOffice template, and the new site is expected to be in place within the next month or so. Board members suggested a variety of ways to increase and clarify communication through the new site.

Brosius-Scott presented a long list of goals that included hiring a development director or coordinator, and holding goal-setting discussions with greater frequency.

One suggestion that met with strong resistance from other board members was that the town purchase the Knox Mill complex. Brosius-Scott said the town could raise the money through a bond in the manner that was used for additions to the elementary school.

Dodge said such a purchase would add responsibilities such as upkeep and management that the town should not take on and would increase costs to taxpayers while taking revenue away from the town. She asked Brosius-Scott if she wanted the town to compete with private commercial endeavors.

Brosius-Scott responded by saying that buying the mill would help Camden meet many of its goals, such as increased parking, conference and office space.

“We should have a lesson some night on what’s a public good and what’s a private good,” Smith told the board. “There is no way you want to be a landlord.”

Brosius-Scott also suggested that the Camden Planning Board explore rezoning the property next to Sagamore Farm that currently belongs to Parker Laite, with an eye to allowing Wayfarer Marine to work on boats at that location.

Select Board member Morgan Laidlaw suggested that one way to improve Camden’s economic picture would be to provide rent subsidies for businesses with one, three or five workers.

“Eventually they’ll grow from 5 to 9, 10 to 19, and 20 or more employees,” Laidlaw said. Laidlaw said such a program could build business at a faster and more sustainable rate than hiring a development director, and at about the same cost to the town.

At the meeting’s start, Grove reminded residents to check the batteries in their smoke alarms and to be sure they have properly working carbon monoxide detectors. Fire Chief Chris Farley said his department offers home safety surveys, batteries, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to residents free of charge.

The next meeting of the Camden Select Board will be Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Washington Street Conference Room. At that meeting, the board will continue to revisit goals that were set out in the comprehensive plan and assess progress toward those goals.

For more information, visit the town’s Web site at or call 236-3533.