Town manager reports on Montgomery Dam design work, EMS service and Charter Commission

By Susan Mustapich | Sep 03, 2019
Source: File photo

CAMDEN — Engineering and design work for plans to fully or partially remove the Montgomery Dam in downtown Camden will be paid for with $50,000 in grants from the Island Institute and Maine Coastal Program of the state Department of Marine Resources.

In her Aug. 29 report, Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell says that another option, "rebuilding the dam and seawall in their current configuration, even with a fish passage solution, will not be a financially or environmentally wise decision for the town." The results of rebuilding the dam and seawall would be "costly repairs," putting "businesses and properties around the Montgomery Dam impoundment ... at greater risk for flooding during major rain events, which are only going to increase in intensity and frequency in the future," and continued erosion of the Harbor Park seawall by "sea level rise and more frequent storm surge."

Emergency ambulance service

Caler-Bell report also addresses "confusion or concern regarding what Camden's plans are in relation to EMS."

She emphasizes that the town's interest in exploring a regional ambulance service with the city of Rockland and other nearby towns "does not preclude the town from working with our current EMS provider to strengthen our current system. Despite any challenges we may have with our current service model we want to work with North East [Mobile Health Services] to make sure we're providing the best care possible to those using EMS in our four town region." She also cites North East's "willingness to continue working with the town and provide us options that will contribute to determining the best path forward."

She goes on to say that "making a significant change to any municipal service is a big decision that takes time. It requires a great deal of research, analysis and planning." She notes that Camden is only in the very early stages of what will be "the tremendous amount of work needed to determine the best path forward with EMS." That work includes "due diligence in determining what the best level of service is for our community and investigating a variety of service models that can best provide the desired level of service."

Charter Commission

The Charter Commission held its organizational meeting Aug. 12, and has scheduled its first public information-gathering meeting for Sept. 9. The meeting takes place at 6:30 p.m. in the French Conference Room on Washington Street.

The town charter "defines how Camden is organized and how it functions," Caler-Bell reports. "The purpose of the Charter Commission is to make recommendations on changes to Camden's Charter to voters. They will hold a series of meetings, public meetings, workshops and public hearings over the upcoming year to gather information and feedback that will be used in forming their recommendations."

Planning and development

In her report Caler-Bell includes updates from department heads, including Planning and Development Director Jeremy Martin.

Martin reports that his department has been working with Gartley & Dorsky engineers, the town's appraiser, and affected property owners on final plans for the sidewalk that will be constructed from Matthew John Street to Shirttail Point.  "It is our hope to put this project out to bid in the fall for construction next year."

A feasibility study is nearly complete regarding the town government's total energy use and options for meeting those energy needs with solar power, according to Martin. The study, conducted by Maine Solar Engineering, is expected to be presented to the Select Board in September.

The town has received a $94,000 steam crossing grant from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to replace the failing culvert at Hosmer Brook, Martin reports. "The new stream crossing will be an open-bottom structure that will promote the natural movements of fish and wildlife and normal stream processes that support healthy habitat in a diversity of flow conditions," according to Martin.

Martin is working with the town's Community and Economic Development Advisory Committee "to figure out what to do with the Sagamore Farm property." The property is town-owned, and according to Camden's Comprehensive Plan, "clearly envisions development on that site," Martin says.

A traffic engineer has looked at the site and determined that no "off-site traffic improvements are required." The intent going forward would recognize that there are trail systems there with existing users, and to "ensure that whatever use is envisioned for the property, that it would be compatible with the recreation that occurs on the site."

The full text of the Aug. 29 Manager's Report is available on the town of Camden website at

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