Selectmen tackle doubts about alewives, speeding and transfer station

by Mary Grow

China selectmen heard from residents and committee members on a variety of topics at their July 11 meeting, finding time to make a few decisions afterwards.

Resident Al Althenn asked selectmen to be more involved in the proposal to introduce sea-run alewives into China Lake, a plan he thinks has potential bad results.

Half a dozen China Village residents asked for enforcement of speed limits on Main Street and Causeway Road before someone gets hurt or killed.

Transfer Station Committee member Paul Lucas attended to join in discussion of transfer station issues.

Althenn argued that “the state is pushing alewives on us” without a risk-benefit analysis or adequate unbiased research.  Nate Gray of the Department of Marine Resources, a proponent of alewife introduction, is acting in the interest of the Gulf of Maine fisheries, not China Lake, Althenn alleged.

He fears an unlimited number of alewives will eat everything else in the lake.  Already, he said, China Lake is no longer a natural lake, because of what he has claimed for years is state Department of Environmental Protection mismanagement of the water level; alewives he fears will be the final disaster.

Selectmen listened and asked questions, but proposed no action.

Kyle Pellerin, speaking for himself and neighbors, told selectmen drivers speed on Main Street and Causeway Road and around the sharp corner where those two roads and Neck Road meet.  With a dozen young children now living in the area, plus other pedestrians going to and from the lake, he fears a fatal accident.

“It’s getting very, very scary,” he said.

More law enforcement would help, he said, but only when law officers are there.  He and others asked for more permanent measures, like speed bumps, crosswalks, a second stop sign at the south end of Maine Street or more conspicuous speed limit signs.

Since Neck Road and Main Street are state roads, Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said state transportation officials should be consulted.
Selectmen promised more law enforcement, especially during hours when residents said there is the most fast traffic.  L’Heureux said costly speeding tickets have helped reduce speeding in other parts of town.

Transfer station issues included relocating the swap shop and adding Palermo residents as transfer station users.

The transfer station committee has proposed a new location for the swap shop intended to simplify traffic flow and reduce congestion near the waste hopper.  L’Heureux estimates the cost of the project at not more than $15,000, including ground preparation, a new building and transfer station employees’ labor as they help with the project.

Board Chairman Robert MacFarland suggested a variety of possible obstacles, like conformity with the phosphorus control plan for the transfer station lot and conformity with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Selectmen tabled action on the committee recommendation to their July 25 meeting.

Selectman Neil Farrington said Palermo officials plan to make the switch to China Jan. 1, 2017.  In the interim, they will prepare to provide bags for residents’ trash.  Under the agreement between the two towns, Palermo residents will pay a per-bag fee, and Palermo will pay China $18,000 annually.

Selectman Irene Belanger reported on a recent meeting of the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), the group sponsoring the proposed Fiberight trash disposal plant, and rebutted claims recently made in newspapers by the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company (PERC), which is competing with MRC for Maine municipalities’ trash.

In other business July 11, L’Heureux reported that the owner of a lot at the head of China Lake’s east basin across Causeway Road from the boat landing will consider selling it to the town, but has not set a price.  The lot is a little over six acres, mostly wetland, the manager said.

The proposed acquisition is based on a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee plan to expand recreational facilities at the head of the lake.  The committee wants “all the land we can get” in the area, L’Heureux said.

Selectmen unanimously approved a community policing policy L’Heureux prepared. They appointed David Crommett to the recreation committee; reappointed Belanger as representative to the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments (KVCOG) and the FirstPark board of directors; and appointed Selectman Joann Austin as the second representative on the FirstPark board.

Belanger and fellow Selectman Ronald Breton will represent China on the Regional School Unit (RSU) #18 cost-sharing committee, set up to review the formula under which costs are apportioned among the member towns (Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney).

As part of preparations for the 2018 bicentennial celebration of the creation of the Town of China, selectmen voted to acquire the copyright to the China Bicentennial History, appropriating up to $1,000 from their contingency fund for expected legal fees.   The history was originally published in 1975 to commemorate the bicentennial of the first settlement around China Lake.

Austin urged prompt action on the search for a coordinator for the bicentennial celebration.  L’Heureux proposes advertising the position, for which voters at the March town business meeting approved funds.  L’Heureux said assessor William Van Tuinen wants to talk with selectmen at their July 25 meeting about personal property taxes.

On Tuesday, July 26, the planning board holds a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. at China Middle School on proposed amendments to the town’s shoreland and sign ordinances.  Austin urged everyone to read the proposed changes carefully and prepare comments for the hearing.


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