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Camden Select Board sets priorities list

By Susan Mustapich | Sep 15, 2020

CAMDEN — The Select Board has published a priorities list for 2020-21, which has come out of several discussions over the past couple of months.

The priority areas are climate change resiliency; broadband internet; housing; infrastructure; emergency medical services; renewable energy and energy conservation; and improving communication. These areas are generally what town officials have either been working on or discussing over the past two years.

A next step will be coming up with a couple of objectives and goals for each priority, according to Board Chairman Bob Falciani.

Climate change resiliency includes working with the town's harbormaster on assessing the public landing's needs, based on a state-funded report on infrastructure vulnerability and options to increase resiliency to sea-level rise. Board members thought it important that residents understand that the Megunticook River restoration project is addressing climate change issues that will face the town. In an August status report, board members learned that survey work in the river was mostly completed and sediment-testing results would soon be available. As part of the work, tidal patterns in Camden Harbor were studied for one month. This work is backed by federal and state grants, funds for a summer intern and voter-approved funding for capital improvements.

A plan for future emergency medical services is being looked at in partnership with the town of Rockport and Pen Bay Medical Center.

Broadband internet expansion is a joint effort with the town of Rockport. The two towns entered into a consulting agreement with Mission Broadband to prepare a request for proposals to find a company to partner with the towns to expand high-speed broadband within the two communities.

Renewable energy and energy conservation focus on reducing the town's carbon emissions through use of solar power; a completed conversion of all of the town's streetlights to LED and smart control technology; and an energy audit conducted by Siemens energy. In the future, the Select Board will determine which recommendations from the audit to move forward with, as well as solar power options. The financial backing for these initiatives involves reducing energy costs and using those savings to pay for improvements through financing mechanisms.

Housing affordability and availability includes a review of short-term rental regulations; how to provide incentives for year-round rentals; and small lot development and increasing density.

Infrastructure focuses on road maintenance and identifying opportunities for increasing accessibility and safety for pedestrians and cyclists when roads and sidewalks are redone. Improving and modernizing drainage to absorb storm water on land, rather than sending it into the harbor, is another part of this priority. Work in these areas is backed by voter-approved funding for engineering and design work.

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