VASSALBORO: Redmond to head select board; church scheduled for demolition

Razing scheduled for July 13. (The Town Line file photo)

by Mary Grow

At newly-elected Vassalboro select board member Frederick “Rick” Denico, Jr.’s first meeting June 23, he and Chris French promptly and unanimously elected Barbara Redmond, senior member of the board, as the new chairman.

Discussion at the lengthy meeting covered planned demolition of the condemned former church building on Priest Hill Road in North Vassalboro; improvements at the transfer station; and end-of-fiscal-year matters, including appointments to town positions for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.

Town Manager Mary Sabins said she has agreed with Mickey Wing, of Casella Waste Management, that his company will demolish the former church, in North Vassalboro, on Wednesday, July 13, and remove the debris, for $14,500.

An order to property owner Chad Caron, prepared by town attorney Kristin Collins and served on June 23, told Caron that any personal property he does not take away before July 13 will be removed. A camper and four vehicles in the yard will also be removed if they are in the way of the demolition, and Caron will be billed for removal and storage.

Sabins said she asked Road Commissioner Eugene Field to block off the lower section of Priest Hill Road for as long as necessary on July 13. Police Chief Mark Brown plans to be present, probably accompanied by a deputy sheriff.

Audience members pointed out dangerous situations on the property. Sabins said she would pass on their information to Wing.

Board members also discussed a non-agenda item, water companies in town, at the instigation of resident Marshall Crandall.

Crandall said Kennebec Water District and the East Vassalboro Water Company are taking up space, limiting use of waterfront property, banning swimming in China Lake’s east basin and generally preventing residents from enjoying a premier natural resource.

He did not expect select board members to do anything about it; he wanted townspeople to get more control, specifically over the East Vassalboro Water Company that serves his household.

Company President Donald Robbins said the company is for sale. He offered two suggestions: a group or individual investor could buy it, with Public Utilities Commission approval (“it’s a good investment,” he said); or customers could band together to create an association or a water district chartered by the Maine legislature. Crandall said he had already spoken with state representative Richard Bradstreet.

Select board members took no action.

Nor did they make a decision on providing a cover for the new compactor at the transfer station. They asked station manager George Hamar to develop some concepts, and agreed to carry forward money left over from improvements made in 2022 into the new fiscal year.

Sabins presented a long list of appointments to town boards and committees, plus herself as town manager and to three other positions and Ellery Bane as town assessor. Most are re-appointments.

There is a vacancy on the planning board, Sabins said; Betsy Poulin has resigned, Paul Mitnik will be moved from alternate member to full member and a new alternate is needed. Three people have expressed interest.

Board members talked about whether they should have candidates fill out applications, or interview the candidates, or both; and about how the present planning board members should be involved in the selection. They decided to ask the current members to review the candidates and afterwards consider what, if anything, select board members should do.

Recreation committee member Melissa Olson said two members of that committee do not want to continue, and Ryan Reed is interested. With these and a few other changes, select board members approve the list, with thanks to the many residents willing to volunteer.

Sabins said she has had three inquiries, one very promising, about the newly-created staff position of program director, to coordinate recreation and related programs.

At the June 14 balloting, 239 voters in a straw poll told select board members they would like to see a new town ordinance to govern commercial solar development; 58 voters said no to the idea. French has collected other towns’ ordinances as guides, and hopes the board will have a Vassalboro ordinance ready to submit to voters on Nov. 8.

The next regular Vassalboro select board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14.


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