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Falciani named chair, McKellar vice chair once again

Board discussed windjammer fees, browntail moths, downtown mural plan
By Daniel Dunkle | Jul 22, 2020
Source: Select Board Zoom meeting This is a rendition of the proposed mural for the parking lot on Mechanic Street. The nautical flags spell out Camden.

Camden — Robert Falciani was once again named chair of the Camden Select Board and Alison McKellar was returned to the position of vice chair in a unanimous vote of the board July 21.

The vote to appoint them to those positions closely followed them being sworn in after having won reelection to the board in the July 14 election.

In a busy agenda, the board also voted to reappoint several prominent town positions including town manager, police and fire chiefs, town attorney and so on, with no changes made to the staff.

The board also heard a presentation from the Bicycle Coalition of Maine to consider proposed bicycle lanes for Mechanic Street. More information about this will be provided in a separate story.

The board discussed the challenges faced by the windjammer fleet and daysailers this year due to the pandemic.

The board agreed that it wants to provide relief for these groups by reducing town fees. The board voted to put off collecting fees until at least October. Board members are still working on the details of how to provide this relief. Proposals included reducing the fees across the board by as much as 50 or 75%. Since the financial situations for the individual windjammers or daysailers varies, the town may establish a form that can be filled out to request relief as needed.

McKellar and Town Manager Audra Caler said the town should lead by example, helping out in the way it hopes landlords will. It was noted some local landlords have gone above and beyond, and that is what you would expect in Camden.

Caler also noted the town may receive federal relief for lost revenues in the crisis and that can offset relief offered to the sailors. In addition, the town has already budgeted for a reduced amount of revenue from these fees.

“We’re going to work with you,” Falciani said. “We’ll get through it together.”

In other business, the board unanimously approved a request by 40 Paper for the extension of its liquor license and expanded outdoor seating during the pandemic.

The board has set its workshop for setting priorities, planning and policy development for 10 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 12.

Another point of discussion was the continuing problem with browntail moths. Caler said it is important to reduce outdoor lighting both for the town and residents because it attracts the insects. Some residents have been attracting them with lights to kill the moths, which can be satisfying, but information provided to the town shows this is not effective. The moths killed this way are mostly males, and this does not reduce the infestation.

McKellar said the town should lead by example and suggested reducing more town lighting sooner and posting signs explaining why. As an example, she said the light on the flagpole in the village green could be turned off.

In his report to the board, Select Board member Marc Ratner said the Snow Bowl will be used as a concert venue in August, though the number of people will be limited due to social distancing at first. The plan will be to have people sit on the hill outside and watch concerts. He praised the Opera House staff for the plan.

He also noted plans for a mural by the downtown design group on a wall overlooking the Mechanic Street parking lot. This will feature nautical flags spelling out Camden. The owner of the building has given permission and the cost will be covered by private donation.

In her report, McKellar noted a survey is underway of the river to learn more about sediments and wildlife and assess buildings. The survey includes lowering water levels allowing people to see the boulders and other structures usually covered by the water.

Select Board member Jenna Lookner noted she fielded some comments and questions about the flea market at the tannery. This may be a future discussion item.

The town is also looking forward to the Maine Outdoor Film Festival at the amphitheater Aug. 20.

Camden town officials gather for an online meeting to deal with town business July 21. (Source: Zoom)
Select Board Vice Chair Alison McKellar showed this photo during the meeting as she updated the board on the river survey. (Source: Zoom, Alison McKellar)
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