Vassalboro select board talks about upcoming town meeting

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro select board members had a varied agenda at their April 28 meeting, discussing topics that included the upcoming June 6 and June 14 annual town meeting; town committees; PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) that might have been in sludge that might have been spread in the 1990s; and upcoming celebrations.

Board members unanimously approved the town meeting warrant. The meeting will be in two parts, as usual.

The open meeting, where voters assemble and vote by show of hands, begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 6, at Vassalboro Community School. Those attending will elect a moderator (Article 1) and act on Articles 2 through 39, which include election of five budget committee members, action on two proposed amendments to Vassalboro’s Marijuana Business ordinance, the 2022-23 municipal budget, municipal policy questions and the 2022-2023 school budget.

On Tuesday, June 14, polls will be open at the town office for voters to endorse or reject the school budget approved June 6; elect members of the select board and school board; and answer a non-binding straw poll asking if they want town officials to draft an ordinance to regulate solar arrays in town.

A PFAS survey was board member Chris French’s idea, reacting to reports of farms in Fairfield, Unity and elsewhere in Maine whose products cannot be used because the chemicals in the soil have contaminated them.

Town Manager Mary Sabins shared a list of five sites in Vassalboro and one in China near the Vassalboro town line for which sludge-spreading licenses were granted between 1980 and 1994. Whether sludge was spread under the licenses is a separate question that was not answered, except that select board Chairman Robert Browne is sure no sludge was spread on the two pieces of land belonging to his family. The stench was a deterrent, he said.

French’s suggestion was that Vassalboro Conservation Commission members try to find out where sludge was spread and arrange to have sites, if there are any, tested for PFAS. Federal ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) might pay for the testing, he said.

PFAS tests cost $300 or more and are not done locally, French said – the nearest laboratory he knows of is in Massachusetts.

Sabins expects state agencies will pay for PFAS tests, though not necessarily this year. After discussion with Peggy Horner of the Conservation Commission and other audience members, select board members postponed action until they see what state officials propose.

Resident Amy Davidoff asked select board member to create a new town committee, as recommended in Vassalboro’s strategic plan, to work with Transfer Station Manager George Hamar on recycling and on updating the transfer station facility. Its recommendations would be advisory to the select board.

Board members discussed current uncertainties associated with waste disposal, especially whether the Municipal Review Committee will succeed in reopening the Hampden waste-to-energy facility in a reasonable time and whether prices paid for recyclables will go up again.

They asked Davidoff and others interested to develop a mission statement for the committee. Davidoff said the strategic plan calls for eight members; she knows of three or four interested people already.

Other Vassalboro residents, especially those knowledgeable about solid waste and recycling issues, are invited to contact her at (207) 284-3417 or at adavidoff@une.edu.

Pending celebrations board members discussed included:

  • May 1 through May 7 is the 53rd annual Professional Municipal Clerks Week (see The Town Line, April 28, p. 11). Board members signed a proclamation to that effect and thanked Vassalboro Town Clerk Cathy Coyne for her good work.
  • On May 19, a celebration of the return of alewives to China Lake via Outlet Stream will be held on the east bank of the stream at Olde Mill Place in North Vassalboro, beginning at 4 p.m. Sabins said Landis Hudson of Maine Rivers, leader of ARI (Alewife Restoration Initiative) that removed stream barriers, is coordinating the event. Governor Janet Mills and state and organizational environmentalists are scheduled to attend, Sabins said.
  • Resident Tom Richards said the Vassalboro Legion Post’s Memorial Day observance will include a flag retirement ceremony, illustrating the respectful way to dispose of United States flags too worn to be displayed. Interested people can get details from Richards or other Post members.

The next regular Vassalboro select board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 12, in the town office meeting room.

 
 

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