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New art walk announced for Camden

Spending on more audio visual equipment, harbor floats approved
By Susan Mustapich | Jan 23, 2020
Gallery owners including Colin Page are hosting the new Camden Art Walk on the third Thursday each month beginning in May.

Camden — Banners will hang on downtown lampposts in May to announce a new Camden Art Walk.

Artist and Bay View Street gallery owner Colin Page told Select Board members Jan. 21 that the plan is to hold the art walks on the third Thursday each month beginning in May.

He asked permission to hang banners from downtown lampposts. The First Bank has donated $5,000 for the Art Walk, he said.

Page said the idea grew out of openings hosted at his gallery on Bay View Street, which turned into big events. Bay View was thriving with activity on those nights, he said.

Select Board members expressed enthusiasm for the Art Walk and unanimously voted to allow its banners on the lampposts, which are town property.

Audio visual upgrade to French Conference Room

Board members approved with a 4-to-1 vote the purchase of more equipment and labor from Stone Mountain Sound to address shortcomings in the new audio visual system installed in the John French Conference Room in November 2018.

Stone Mountain Sound was awarded the bid for the major tech upgrade in 2018, replacing decades old and obsolete equipment. The company's bid was $35,570.

Board member Jenna Lookner voted against Stone Mountain's proposal to provide and install the new equipment. She said she "was not particularly impressed with the work Stone Mountain has done." She noted the company was recommended by Opera House staff, but the company did not have prior experience with municipal work.

The new equipment approved Jan. 21 includes two new video cameras at a cost of $4,500, plus labor. The other equipment is a new streaming device, because the current device occasionally stops recording. The streaming device will cost $600, according to Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell, because Stone Mountain bought back the first device.

The current system includes two cameras, one focused on individual speakers at the dais or seated at the front of the room, and another at the back of the room aimed at the full board. One shortcoming board members discovered is it can be difficult for viewers of the livestream to clearly see board members and to determine who is speaking. They noted Rockland, Rockport and the RSU 13 school board all use four cameras.

Lookner suggested the board bring in other companies to address the shortcomings discovered since the new equipment was installed. Stone Mountain was asked to submit a proposal for numerous items, which totaled $27,360.

Board members have found they cannot see the visual presentations projected on a large screen behind them. One solution to address this is to place monitors strategically in the conference room so they and the audience can see them. Another solution is a system that allows anyone in the room to connect to a wireless system and view the presentation on their computer or other device.

The board also discussed the need for improved sound in the room. Board member Taylor Benzie asked for clarification on wants versus needs.

Caler-Bell responded that the new streaming device and cameras were higher priority. Board members agreed that they would defer action on additional improvements, and discuss this again in the future.

New harbor floats

Harbor Master Steve Pixley proposed acceptance of a $52,393 bid for five new floats with encapsulated polystyrene flotation. These new floats make a walkway that connects the fisherman float area with the finger floats.

The change to encapsulation conforms to an ordinance passed in Camden in November 2017, requiring all polystyrene flotation be encapsulated in hard plastic by November 2022. Select Board Vice Chairman Alison McKellar said that while a majority of voters approved this, a lot of people did not know what they were voting on.

Pixley said the bid included costing out the option of using translucent decking material, which allows sunlight to pass through for the benefit of marine life. The bidder, Scott F. Dyer of Custom Float Services, Inc. in South Portland recommended not using this material for two reasons: the encapsulated flotation will block light from passing through, and the quality of the decking material will not stand up to commercial use.

McKellar said there are other types of translucent decking, and the float would need a different construction. She asked that this be researched for harbor floats to be replaced in the future.

Board members asked Pixley why there was only one bid. He said Dyer has previously supplied new floats with encapsulated polystyrene for the town. Board members approved the bid unanimously.

Cushions for Opera House Balcony seats

Opera House Manager Dave Morrison proposed a crowdfunding campaign to raise $8,500 for 187 custom-made cushions for the wooden seats in the balcony section.

Morrison said the idea was proposed by organizers of the Camden Conference. The Camden Opera House is the central location for the annual conference, which hosts the event at satellite locations. Organizers shared feedback that attendees would like balcony seating to be more comfortable, Morrison said. He found that most seat cushions conform to the shape of dining room chairs, and do not work for historic balcony seats. He found that the Maine Prison upholstery shop makes quality custom cushions, and showed board members a prototype cushion.

Lookner suggested that one of the non-profit partners sponsor the fundraising to avoid fees associated with online fundraising. Board members agreed and asked Morrison to explore the option of a non-profit sponsor for the fundraising effort.

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