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Another attempt at regionalization?
RUMFORD -- At least one selectman is in hopes that a priority this year will be focused on regionalization efforts.
At Thursday's board meeting, Selectman Mark Belanger said the last time a regionalization effort was attempted, it was department driven. This time, he said maybe they would use "a non-biased committee of citizens from each town."
Fire Chief Bob Chase said a lot of people are in favor of moving in this direction, noting that even before a committee is formed, there is work that can be done beforehand to give a committee an agenda to work with.
Selectman Greg Buccina noted local successes in merging schools, solid waste and Med-Care. "Nothing that we've done has failed."
Selectman Jeremy Volkernick suggested that Town Manager Carlo Puiia see if surrounding towns are interested to start the process. "Put an emphasis on this this year so we have something to present to voters next year."
In other business, selectmen accepted advice from Dixfield businessman Tom Powell to meet with a wind developer to determine what’s palatable in a wind ordinance. The board asked Puiia to schedule the meeting(s).
Powell claimed he had the insight selectmen need because he works in the wind industry and has helped build 100- to 175-tower wind farms across the nation.
Powell said language should be added to affirm to wind developers that existing recreational opportunities like hunting, snowmobiling or skiing at Black Mountain aren’t compromised by placement of wind turbines. He suggested they require developers to place adjacent wind farms at least 1,000 feet apart, as well as setting a limit on the number of towers.
Powell said fire is a real concern with wind towers because the turbines generate tremendous heat. He suggested they include language dealing with that, which is something the board hadn’t yet considered.
The board tabled a decision on whether to change a section of York Street from Maine to Oxford avenues to one-way traffic.
Puiia said six homes would be impacted, meaning that they could no longer exit York Street on Maine Avenue, but would have to go up Oxford Avenue and back down Penobscot if heading towards the (downtown) Island.
At issue is an $80,000 Safe Roads to School grant that Rumford has already received and a Maine Department of Transportation recommendation to change the traffic flow to add a sidewalk for schoolchildren through the section to Rumford Elementary School.
Public Works Supervisor Andy Russell said the total amount of new sidewalks proposed is from 1,700 to 1,800 feet.
He said he didn't put any money in his budget for sidewalks, figuring to use the grant money.
Laurie Soucy, Regional School Unit 10's health coordinator, wrote the grant three years ago on behalf of the town to prevent children from walking in the street.
Puiia said cable franchise fees to the town this year will be $40,269.83.
The board voted 4-0 to lift the municipal winter parking ban unless there is a snowstorm.