Action on Mitchell Field, closed school among goals for Harpswell selectmen

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HARPSWELL — Decisions involving Mitchell Field and the West Harpswell School top a list of goals the Board of Selectmen set for itself for the upcoming year.

“It helps the staff direct their focus, to know that these are things you want to accomplish in the coming year, so we find it helpful,” Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said.

The board unanimously approved the goals and objectives on May 10. It was the first time in several years members have set formal goals, according to Eiane.

At Mitchell Field, the board hopes to reach a firm agreement on a lease for the Marine Business District by the year’s end.

It will also decide how to proceed with various infrastructure issues, including the disposition of a crumbling pier, the potential construction of a boat launch, and dealing with utility services.

The board indicated an interest in taking the next step with the West Harpswell School: a medium-term plan for use will be crafted, and preparations will be made for a binding vote in March 2013. Long-term options will also be reviewed.

This year, the board also hopes to craft the town’s first economic development plan, which selectmen said should support the local business community and define “an appropriate role for local government in fostering economic development.”

The board will also tackle the issue of outdoor wood burning boilers. Town leaders have been trying to decide whether to move forward with a local ordinance to regulate the boilers, but Chairwoman Elinor Multer said state laws should first be assessed.

Selectman Jim Henderson said he believes the town should address a master plan for the town office area sooner rather than later.

“The recent assessment of buildable places is a good area to begin, because they have plans already laid out,” Henderson said. “Maybe that’s something that we could entertain relatively soon. Because this is related to this garage building business, that’s why I would like to have us think about this.”

The town recently hired Mid Coast Hospital to provide paramedic services. The emergency vehicle currently parks outside the municipal center, but town leaders have said that a garage needs to be built before winter comes.

The list of goals approved by the board specifies that a “small-scale” garage should be built, but that its design and location should allow for future expansion.

Henderson suggested that the issue be addressed at the board’s next meeting.

The board also resolved to develop more efficient management plans for Harpswell’s 18 committees.

Other items that made the list include the disposition of a tax-acquired property on Hildreth Road and shifting from an elected to an appointed treasurer.

The vote, Multer said, is the first step in what promises to be a substantial amount of work.

“Well, we’ve had the easy ‘said’ part,” she said. “Now it’s the follow through, isn’t it?”

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or matthh@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hh_matt.

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