Vassalboro News: Selectmen OK letter to KWD seeking support for Alewife Restoration Initiative

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen heard two requests and one proposal at their Jan. 26 meeting. They granted one request and took the other two items under advisement.

Board members approved Frank Richards’ request that they write a letter to the president of the Kennebec Water District (KWD) Board of Trustees asking the district to support the project to restore alewives to China Lake, known as ARI (Alewife Restoration Initiative).

Richards is Vassalboro’s new representative on the board. One reason he sought the position, he said, was to try to get KWD to support ARI financially.
The current KWD position, as stated by General Manager Jeffrey LaCasse (see The Town Line, Jan. 19, 2017, page 8), is neither for nor against alewife reintroduction. KWD officials do not believe alewives are responsible for water quality improvements; neither do they believe the small fish will harm water quality.

Richards praised state Representative Timothy Theriault, of China, for introducing a bill, LD 55, co-sponsored by legislators from Winslow and Fairfield, that would impose a fee on KWD customers to go toward China Lake water quality restoration. (For another perspective on LD 55, see The Town Line, Jan. 26, 2017, p. 3. )

Selectmen agreed that board Chairman Lauchlin Titus and Town Manager Mary Sabins will draft a letter to KWD Board President Al Hodsdon.
The second request was from Holly Weidner, who asked selectmen as they prepare 2017-18 budget recommendations to reconsider the policy of flat-funding out-of-town social service agencies. Weidner argued that many of the agencies, like those dealing with sexual assault and domestic violence, perform valuable public safety functions and should be more generously supported. Selectman Phil Haines said selectmen and budget committee members constantly balance between the needs presented to them and the need to keep the local tax rate as low as possible.

Agency requests are included in the town meeting warrant, Sabins pointed out, giving voters the option to appropriate the full amount an agency wants when town officials recommend a lower amount.

Selectmen are scheduled to begin review of the proposed 2017-18 municipal budget at a workshop scheduled for 1 p.m., Monday, Feb. 13. The budget committee’s tentative schedule has social service agency requests to be considered the evening of Thursday, March 9.

The proposal at the Jan. 26 meeting, submitted by a representative of Maryland-based RealTerm Energy, was to replace current street lights with LED lights.

Paul Vesel, the company’s northeastern director of business development, gave selectmen and audience members a 33-page document describing plans for the change and projected cost savings.

In April 2016 selectmen heard another proposal on the same topic from Pemco & Company, LLC, of Florida.

In other business Jan. 26, Sabins reported on two initiatives from Vassalboro’s Senior Citizens Working Group. Members are still discussing provision of bus service in Vassalboro, she said, and they are planning a May 25 Senior Citizens Services Fair at which area organizations whose responsibilities include assisting seniors will be invited to distribute information about their services.

Selectmen approved a liquor license renewal for Natanis Golf Course, with board member and Natanis owner Rob Browne abstaining on the vote.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, Feb. 9.


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