In preparation for a public hearing, the Camden Select Board reviewed a request Feb. 16 from development consultant Chris Shrum and Sue Bramhall of Mind’s Eye Travel to pursue a Community Development Block Grant Program public service grant proposal.

The board unanimously approved the agenda item, placing the question on the warrant for a March 2 public hearing.

If approved, the grant would provide up to $50,000 in state administered federal funds to support the expansion of sighted guide services and training for blind and visually impaired Maine residents. According to a letter of intent to be sent to the Department of Economic and Community Development by Town Manager Roberta Smith, “Grant funds will be dedicated to staff resources, development and implementation of a marketing and outreach campaign, and the creation of education and training materials.”

“Mind’s Eye Travel provides a range of support services to blind and visually impaired persons so they can maintain a level of independence, self-confidence and dignity,” the application said.

Bramhall, who is vision impaired, said the services her nonprofit company offers help people to become more independent.

“This would help them enjoy what we oftentimes take for granted,” Shrum said. He explained that, like all Community Development Block Grant funding, public service grants must be delivered through municipalities.

Matching funds for the project’s estimated $77,500 total cost would come in the form of $22,500 in program fees paid by Mind’s Eye travelers, as well as a $5,000 private donation.

Following the public hearing, the town would file a letter of intent with the Department of Economic and Community Development. A final vote on the grant would probably be part of the annual town meeting in June.

The Select Board deferred approval of a request from Megunticook Rowing to lease a portion of the Barrett’s Cove lot, clear a walking path and install a float ramp. Board members asked Ry Hills, director of Megunticook Rowing, whether she had gone over the layout of the proposed path and clearing with anyone from the Conservation Committee.

Select Board members also said they had been contacted by lakeside residents, fishermen and power boaters who expressed concern about noise from the rowers and other issues of equitable usage of the lake.

Hills agreed to meet with the Conservation Committee and with Ken Bailey before reporting back to the board.

Fire Chief Chris Farley answered questions about the responsibilities and the stipend for the position of emergency management director. While it was agreed that the tasks pertaining to the position are in the chief’s job description, there was consensus on the board that the $500 stipend currently paid for Farley’s emergency management responsibilities falls short of paying for the services he performs.

Select Board member Anita Brosius-Scott said she greatly appreciated Farley’s work in organizing and updating his role, but this was not the time to consider any raise in pay.

“We are stuck with the fact that we are not giving any cost of living raises to anybody this year,” Brosius Scott said.

Board member John French made a motion to raise the stipend to $1,500, which was half of the $3,000 requested. Farley uses his personal vehicle for his work as fire chief, receiving mileage reimbursement at the federal rate.

Chairwoman Karen Grove said the choice of reimbursement for use of a personal vehicle was made by former Fire Chief Bob Oxton, who was paid $3,500 annually to compensate for the use of his vehicle.

Town Manager Smith said it has been part of the town’s capital budget plan to replace a pickup truck used by the police department and to give the fire chief that truck, but recent budget constraints have made it unlikely that such a purchase will take place.

“A capital plan is as good as the money you have to put toward it,” Smith said.

The board voted to approve the stipend increase, with French, Grove and Morgan Laidlaw voting for the $1,500 stipend, and Brosius-Scott and Deb Dodge voting against the increase.

The bid for the 2010 Shade Tree Planting Program was awarded to Jackson Landscaping, and John Orlando was appointed to an alternate position on the Camden Opera House Committee. An executive session was held in regard to collective bargaining.

The next regular meeting of the Select Board will be held Tuesday, March 2 at 7 p.m. and will begin with hearings on the proposed Community Development Block Grant public service grant proposal as well as a proposal to apply for a Community Development Block Grant Program 2010 Housing Assistance Grant.

The meeting will take place in the Washington Street Conference Room and will be broadcast on Channel 22.