The Select Board approved reduced license fees for windjammer and daysail businesses Dec. 1, and agreed that 4 Knowlton St. is the temporary home of the skate park.

The large windjammers in Camden Harbor remained under their winter wraps for theĀ entire 2020 season, due to COVID-19 restrictions that made it impossible to operate. Daysail boats that cruise for two or more hours with smaller numbers of customers were able to operate, but also lost business.

Board members approved the recommendation of Town Manager Audra CalerĀ of a 75% fee discount for windjammers and a 50% discount for daysail boats.

"Daysail and windjammers had a really difficult season because of COVID-19," Caler said. As the town has a landlord tenant relationship with the boats, which are licensed to use public floats, the town has an opportunity to provide minimal relief to this local industry, she said.

Board member Jenna Lookner recused herself from the vote on fee reductions due to a connection to a business related to these boats.

Skate park temporary home

The Board approved 4 Knowlton St. as a temporary home for the skate park, which has been located there for months. The decision was made after hearing from neighbors and town residents, both in favor and against the skate park's usage at that location.

Caler asked for assistance from supporters, and from neighbors objecting to the noise of the skate park, in developing rules for its operation. She has to draw up these rules immediately, now that the town has officially sanctioned the temporary location, she said. She has communicated with the town's insurer, and the town will assume standard liability for the site.

Starfire Skate Park was located behind the Teen Center at 10 Knowlton, which had been owned and operated by the Penobscot Bay YMCA for about 10 years. When the Y sold the building in August to Atlantic Academy, a school for special needs students, the skate park had to be moved. Skateborders, parents and community members rallied to keep it in Camden, and town officials agreed to the move to the town-owned parking lot at 4 Knowlton.

A number of neighbors who live across from the skate park joined the Dec. 1 meeting. They said they want to support a skate park, but also need mitigation from the noise and rules for hours of operation and use. Neighbors asked how the town is defining temporary use.

Joshua Moore, who lives in the neighborhood on Alden Street, supports having a skateboard park in Camden, while sympathizing with the plight of neighbors who live closer to 4 Knowlton. He described the noise he can hear at a distance, as a "thud-thud, thud-thud BANG" comparable to a car door slamming or a truck going over a speed bump. The noise is there "sometimes from early in the morning until after dark," he wrote.

Neighbors agreed that the town allowing the skatepark to be moved to 4 Knowlton without the normal public process and input has created the current problem, including a situation that pits groups of good people against one another.

Wyatt McConnell wrote in support of the skate park. He helped rebuild the ramps, which were in dismal condition, in September and October, to create a bright-spot for kids at a time of social distancing and isolation. He sees pride instilled in the skateboarders by having the park visible from the street, instead of hidden behind a building. With restrictions on skateboarding elsewhere in town, Knowlton Street has long been a place where kids can skateboard and be themselves, he wrote. He also wrote about methods to mitigate the noise, including adding material to dampen noise from the ramps and creating noise barriers.

McConnell spoke at the meeting, pointing out that not long ago the skate park nearly disappeared overnight during the pandemic, and the town heard from many people about its value.

A comment was made that families are discovering the skate park and more kids are using it, as it can be seen from the road by people driving by.

Other community members provided the town with statements of support, including Jed Schwalm, Atlantic Academy executive director.

Willow Street property

Board members made no decision on four letters of interest submitted by parties who want to buy a house and lot on Willow Street, acquired by the town due to non-payment of property taxes.

The residential property has been vacant for about 10 years, according to a letter submitted to the board by a neighbor.

Board Vice Chairwoman Alison McKellar wants the focus on choosing a proposal to include guarantees that the property will remain affordable, the building will not be demolished and the rehabilitation will use sustainable methods.

Lookner said she agrees with McKellar and also that she supports a plan submitted by Dan Ford who buys old and abandoned properties and restores them. Ford proposes to rent the restored home affordably.

Board member Marc Ratner strongly supports a proposal from Matt Heath, a full-time Camden fire fighter. Ratner said Heath is the only one of the four who wants to live in the house, which would be a first home for he and his wife. Ratner said the value to the town of having a member of the fire department living in town is unparalleled.

"One of these days, having that access can actually save a life," he said.

The other two letters of interest for the property were submitted by Midcoast Habitat for Humanity and Pine Tree Real Estate LLC, a Waldoboro company, proposing to renovate the home into two affordable rental units.

Board members agreed they need more information from each of the four interested parties. They will draft questions for these parties and arrange to meet with each of them.

The Select Board is authorized by voters at annual town meeting to sell tax-acquired properties, with some exclusions. The exclusions do not pertain to the Willow Street property.