CAMDEN — New and multi-term Select Board members talked about priorities for the town’s municipal government in the coming fiscal year July 28.

Town Manager Audra Caler gave board members a matrix of current projects showing their status and how they relate to board priorities established over the past few years.

The information helped board members see many of their priorities are being implemented.

It also helped Caler demonstrate that “taking on anything new or distinct from what’s on this list would not be a good idea at this point given everything that we have right now.”

She pointed out that while the planning process is “strategic and proactive,” the nature of local government is that “we’re always going to have things come up that we have to react to.”

“Any day something can pop up that takes away everyone’s attention and time,” she said.

Board Chair Bob Falciani talked about “a learning curve over the past few years in terms of priorities.”  One year the board came up with a list of ordinances it wanted to be done, then later  leaned they were “stressing one of our department heads to the tune of 90% of his time to accomplish some of that.” The lesson learned was “to be careful to balance the workload on these priorities,” he said.

Altogether there are “about 47 distinct projects in various stages,” Caler said. Falciani suggested that she post the matrix on the town website so everyone can see the information.

Projects underway that satisfy the priority to improve infrastructure include the wastewater treatment plan redevelopment, pedestrian safety program, Washington Street sidewalk from Alden Street to the tannery property and downtown master plan redevelopment.

The Washington Street sidewalk from Matthew John Street to Shirttail Point is on the list to be built sometime this year.

The Siemens Energy efficiency and building upgrade project, also underway, fits with the board’s goal of using renewable energy and energy conservation to decrease carbon emissions.

A long list of projects in the planning or engineering stage are currently underway.

River restoration is a project in the planning and engineering stage that meets the goal of climate change resiliency. A stormwater management planning project meets that goal as well as infrastructure development.

Other infrastructure projects in this stage are a paid parking management system, the wastewater interlocal agreement with Rockport and Pearl Street drainage.

The board’s goal to bring in high speed affordable internet is met by its support of the Midcoast Internet Development Corporation.

Another bucket of projects in the planning stage do not fall under specific board priorities. These include the revision of the town’s Charter and improvements at the Snow Bowl, including a new lodge.

Falciani said Code Enforcement Officer Rosie Curtis, who is an architect, is helping to answer the question of what size the lodge should be. After that will comes preliminary budget estimates, decision making, finding someone to design it and coordination with the land trust, he said. He expects “there won’t be a lot of time spent on it this year.”

Caler explained the size of a geothermal system recently installed at the Snow Bowl will accommodate a new lodge.

One project in current planning would create an online permitting and licensing system. Caler said in talking to Curtis she learned “the office has put in a lot of time to set up an internal workflow system for permitting.”

While the existing system “might not meet the need of the public to track permits,” Caler does not want to make the office change to a new system that will be cumbersome and difficult for them. She recommends to the board to make sure anything new put in place is not creating a new problem and inefficiency.

Resources have also been allocated to additional planning and engineering projects for 2021-22. These include an engineering study of stormwater infiltration of the sewer system.

Further out in the future is planning redevelopment of the Public Landing and town docks and floats. This is projected for 2022-23.

Board member Marc Ratner gave the annual goal setting process high marks, as well as Caler’s tracking system.

He would like added to the list for future consideration trail improvement and use of lifts at the Snow Bowl for a mountain biking project to increase year-round use of the property.

Bringing electric car charging stations to Camden is the one priority he wants to see added for near-term development. He asked if this could be a recommendation in the parking study underway.

Caler said bringing in electric charging stations is an example of a big project that would require her time as well as that of Town Attorney Bill Kelly, and is not something that can be handled entirely by the parking study consultant. She has seen proposals from Central Maine Power and Efficiency Maine that would require the town to pay for the use of the stations, but does not agree with that model.

Board member Sophie Romana asked if members were to assume “that we are at full capacity …. if we want to add something, we have to subtract something.”

She also asked if the amount of time projects take could be quantified and what Caler expects will be done this year, “so we can bank some time for a future year.”

Board Vice Chair Alison McKellar asked about the category listed as “status to be determined.”

Caler said these are her big questions for the board, and wanted to know what can go on the back burner and what are more urgent priorities.

Included here are green energy investment in the proposed solar farm at the Knox County airport, the Lyman Morse redevelopment plan for the harbor and Steamboat Landing, Sagamore Farm, Snow Bowl slope lighting and the tannery property.

Falciani, Ratner and Romana agreed the tannery property has to be addressed. Falciani suggested picking up where the board left off in April, verifying three proposals to ensure they are still viable before moving forward and a board decision on whether to put something to a vote. Ratner agrees the board needs to take action. Romana said there are a lot of expectations from the public and to bring this to the finish line.

Caler suggested the board “look at what you have currently and make a definitive final decision on that.”

McKellar said what she cares about most is the riverbank, which the town will be responsible for forever, and the town will need to resolve at some point.

Falciani asked that the board discuss the tannery property soon, and make a decision on the direction it wants to take.

Board member Matt Siegel talked about the board deciding what it wants to do if it were to put out another request for proposals.

Before the meeting ended, the consensus was that Romana would assist Caler with the bucket of remaining “to be determined” items.