CAMDEN — In a busy meeting the Camden Select Board handled several issues May 24 including hiring a consultant for the controversial river restoration project, approving funding for a pilot parking program at the public landing and appointing the Police Chief to serve as inland harbormaster. Law enforcement patrols are planned for the lakes this year.

The meeting opened with recognition of Deb Dodge, who is moving to Virginia after living here and volunteering in numerous capacities for the town for the past 35 years. She has served on the Select Board, the Planning Board, Coastal Mountains Land Trust and many advisory committees.

Select Board members praised her for her ability to listen and provide a sense of civility and grace in committee meetings. Vice Chair Alison McKellar noted that Dodge’s voice can be read in many of the town’s important documents including the Comprehensive Plan.

This year’s town report will be dedicated to Dodge.

Dodge seemed very moved by the recognition, which she did not know was coming at the meeting. She talked about how she and her husband have loved their time in the beautiful town of Camden, and she urged residents to serve on committees.

“I love you all,” she said.

During the public comment portion of the meeting Anita Brosius-Scott urged the Select Board to put the co-housing plan for Sagamore Farm on the next agenda. She argued this was a higher priority project than the river restoration, which she said takes up much of the town’s staff time. She said this project could bring energy efficient housing to the town that would help solve the present crisis.

Chair Bob Falciani said it was on the board’s radar.

Anita pressed, saying she had heard that for the past year. She asked if the board could say anything more than “it’s on the radar,” and commit to putting it on the next agenda.

“No,” Falciani said. “This is a non-agenda item. You’ve made your point.”

William Tims, the new owner of Norumbega Inn, attended the meeting in which the inn’s liquor license was approved. He said he bought the property last week and he plans interior renovations in the off season. He said he is an architect and has lived in New York City for the past 25 years.

William Tims

Janice Esancy was appointed acting town manager while Audra Caler is on maternity leave.

Police Chief Randy Gagne was appointed Inland harbormaster. He said he would be bringing back boat patrols to the lake. In the past, the late Ken Bailey provided this service and the Sheriff’s Office, but it has not been in practice in recent years.

Gagne said he has a mutual aid agreement with the Sheriff’s Office to help in the event of needs on other area lakes as well.

He said the patrols were not about wrecking anyone’s weekend, but just to make sure boats are properly registered, that they are being used safely and that everyone has life jackets.

The board voted 3-1 to approve a pilot parking program this summer at the public landing. The plan is to put in a kiosk where the visitor takes a ticket and puts it in their windshield while parked at the landing. The cost is likely to be a small amount per hour. The plan has met with some concern from residents including boaters who use the landing throughout the summer.

Select Board member Marc Ratner voted against the plan. He said he is not sure yet. He said although it is a pilot program, once the town starts in this direction it is hard to pull back.

After some discussion, the board voted to hire Source to Sea Consulting to help the town move forward on its river restoration plans. The cost is not to exceed $20,000. The consultant will provide a memo with recommendations and help form a town steering committee for the project.

FB Environmental Associates of Portland and Biohabitats Inc. of Connecticut had also expressed interest in the job. The Select Board liked the completeness of the FB proposal and may hire one of the other consultants later after the initial phase is completed. The costs involved were a factor in the decision.

Shawn McBrien of Camden criticized the board, saying they had taken every step to thwart the rights of citizens to petition and hold a town meeting to vote on the matter of removing Montgomery Dam and river restoration.

Select Board members said the residents of Camden will vote on any restoration plan. The Select Board has limited power to decide matters in the town and would need a vote of the townspeople.

Ratner said at one point in the discussion that he does not want the project to get too far ahead of the townspeople. He said maybe the town does need to have a vote before the board spends a lot more money studying how to proceed.

“This is not a race,” he said.

Select Board member Sophie Romana argued the town needed to start.