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Waldoboro Select Board to hear park presentation

By Christine Simmonds | Feb 10, 2021
Photo by: Christine Simmonds The Waldoboro Select Board hears public comment at their Feb. 9 meeting.

Waldoboro — The Waldoboro Select Board will hear a presentation about a proposed park project for the A.D. Gray building at their Feb. 23 meeting.

The decision to add the presentation to the next agenda was made during the board’s Feb. 9 meeting, at the request of Surran Pyne, who is spearheading the proposal.

Pyne said Waldoboro citizens who support the park project have formed the A.D. Gray Park Coalition. The group’s goal is to have the board offer residents a choice about the park proposal.

Pyne’s proposal is to demolish the building and convert the entire eight acres of land owned by the town to a public park. It is currently competing with a proposal to convert the former school building into affordable senior housing with Volunteers of America New England.

This was Pyne’s third request for the board to consider her proposal. On Jan. 27, Pyne also gave her presentation to the recreation committee. The committee is currently reviewing her proposal.

Pyne told the board that Sen. Chloe Maxmin met with the coalition and gave her support to the park project. “She gave us her permission to use her name on this,” Pyne said.

When contacted, Maxmin said she did give the group permission to use her name, but she was still looking into the merits of both the park and the housing project.

The nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land also expressed support for the park proposal, and sent a letter expressing support. Pyne gave a copy of this letter to the board.

“What our group is offering to Waldoboro is a different path from what was suggested by the Volunteers of America,” Pyne said. “Ultimately the matter needs to go before the voters.”

Pyne also informed the board that her proposal was time sensitive, due to a May deadline for funding application with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

“It is urgent that the town select board should table further discussion with Volunteers of America and move on this project,” she said.

Residents Dan Marcone and Jeff Hurd also voiced their support for the proposed park.

In other business, the board viewed a presentation from the economic development committee.

Committee member Jan Visser spoke about attracting businesses and families to Waldoboro, and showed the board a brochure the committee created.

“Waldoboro (is) the hub of Midcoast Maine,” said Visser. “All roads lead to Waldoboro.”

He added this was a great way to market the town.

Committee member George Seaver spoke about current businesses in Waldoboro, such as aquaculture.

Seaver said an incoming aquaculture business would be growing and selling eels and elvers, though it has not broken ground yet. “It’s a matter of going to the next step,” he said.

Another possible aquaculture business in Waldoboro Seaver spoke about would grow oysters in tanks. “Those two businesses would… get people’s attention,” he said.

“Land-based aquaculture is going to be something important going forward,” Seaver said. Waldoboro’s location near both the ocean and rivers would be an advantage for these kind of businesses.

Vissner then said the committee also focused on the art community in Waldoboro, and the possibility of holding events like an art walk once the pandemic was over.

The committee was also recently discussing possibilities for properties owned by the town, Vissner said.

Board member Jann Minzy asked about promoting and rebranding the town. She said the five-masted schooner was a symbol of the town for a while, but no longer connected to anything that was current for the town.

Minzy requested that promoting the town be added to the next agenda as well.

Board chair Abden Simmons asked the board to schedule a public hearing on changing the shellfish ordinance requirements for applying for a license.

The current ordinance states that applicants must be a Waldoboro resident for 90 days. The new ordinance would change the requirement to one year.

The board scheduled the public hearing for their next meeting.

Board member Katie Winchenbach thanked the public works department for their hard work clearing snow during the recent storms.

The board also voted to renew Waldoboro’s rights to the river herring for another year, though no one is currently able to harvest the fish.

The next select board meeting is Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. The public can attend in person, by Zoom, or watch the meeting live on YouTube. Prior meetings are also available on the town’s YouTube page.

The A.D. Gray building in Waldoboro. (Photo by: Christine Simmonds)
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