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Originally published in Castine Patriot, December 5, 2013
May 10 set as town meeting date in Castine

by Sharon Bray

Two of the town’s three selectmen—David Unger and Peter Vogell—voted at their December 2 meeting to schedule the annual budget meeting for Saturday, May 10, 2014. Selectman Gus Basile was in the hospital with pneumonia, according to Unger. The town meeting will start at 8:30 a.m.

Selectmen also approved the town water department budget for fiscal year 2014. The Utility Board had given its unanimous support for the budget as presented to selectmen.

Unger said users will not see any rate increase.

The budget takes into account depreciation and adds money set aside in a capital reserve account, according to Castine Finance Officer Karen Motycka. She also commented that more houses rented to students will increase water use and department revenues.

Castine Volunteer Firefighters Association has given the town’s fire department several Scott RIT Pack IIIs. Unger and Vogell, who is an assistant fire chief, voted to accept the donation. The fire and rescue department belongs to the town but the association is a separate nonprofit organization made up of volunteer members of the department. The donated air packs are smaller than regular firefighting gear, according to Vogell.

Town Manager Dale Abernethy said he has had a few questions about how two people in a household can respond to the recently mailed survey of opinions on the design of Main Street as part of Phase II of infrastructure improvements.

Design firm WBRC of Bangor, which has been consulting for the town for more than a year, mailed an extensive questionnaire to every taxpaying household in Castine.

A year ago selectmen and engineers from Olver Associates started a series of public meetings to discuss plans for the surface of lower Main Street and nearby business district streets. Olver engineered plans for sewer and water line upgrades under the streets.

In the spring of 2013, selectmen announced plans that included wider Main Street travel lanes, parking and sidewalk changes. Members of a newly appointed design subcommittee of the Economic and Community Development Committee (ECDC) objected to the plans.

Resident Ted Lameyer, chairman of the design subcommittee, proposed an alternative plan. A large number of other residents also raised objections after meeting with Lameyer.

In an attempt to learn what most Castine residents want their business district streets and sidewalks to look like, WBRC initiated the survey. The process of changing the design delayed the start of construction, including underground utilities, from 2014 to 2015, Abernethy said at a meeting in September.

Although each taxpayer or taxpaying couple received one survey form, Abernethy said differing opinions within the household could be so noted on the form and WBRC would take that into account when analyzing and reporting numbers of responses.

In response to a question at the meeting, Unger said selectmen will make final decisions, “hopefully by March.”

Residents will vote on funding for the project at the May town meeting.

The next regular selectmen’s meeting was scheduled for Monday, December 16, at 4 p.m. with a short extra meeting December 31 to sign year-end warrants. There will be no town-gown meeting in December.

Selectmen set their next regular board meetings for Monday, January 6, at 4 p.m. and Tuesday, January 21, at 1 p.m. to accommodate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and selectmen’s personal appointments. The next town-gown meeting will be January 22 at 8 a.m. in Emerson Hall.