Brunswick council to discuss expansion of drug-free zones

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BRUNSWICK — The Town Council on July 6 will weigh the merits of expanding the town’s drug-free zones to athletic fields, parks and playgrounds, a move that would pave the way for stiffer drug-trafficking penalties.

The Brunswick Police Department has asked the council to consider the proposal, which would effectively mirror the drug-free zones that already exist at schools. The new zones, dubbed “safe zones,” would provide the same penalties for dealing drugs at several recreational facilities and parks, including the Town Commons, the Mall, the Androscoggin River Bike and Pedestrian Path, Coffin Pond and the Mere Point Boat Launch.

Police have identified a total of 34 potential safe zones.

Cmdr. Kevin Schofield said Wednesday that the initiative shows the community the department was taking “a strong stance against drug dealing.”

“It’s not tied to problems at any specific area or location,” Schofield said. 

In a memo to the council, Detective Rich Cutliffe said safe zones are places where children are often present.

“The goal is to make punishment tougher on drug dealers and to act as a deterrent for those who consider selling drugs to our children,” Cutliffe said.

The proposal is modeled after a law passed by the 122nd Legislature. 

Monday’s agenda item doesn’t call for immediate action on the proposal.

The council will also be asked to adopt its five-year Capital Improvement Program. Planned expenditures for the current fiscal year total $5.6 million, about half of which is dedicated to public works projects, including $850,000 for a temporary cover on the landfill, $350,000 for a landfill compactor and $730,000 for street and road repairs. 

The School Department is also receiving a $1 million allocation for an energy efficiency project. 

The CIP program nearly triples in 2010-2011, increasing to $15 million. Much of that total is driven by a $6.6 million police station, which the council will begin studying later this year.

Another $1.6 million allocation toward the extension of the Androscoggin Bike and Pedestrian Path is also scheduled. The council recently authorized a grant application that could qualify the project for grant funding.

The council will also consider backing a bill that would create tax
incentives for visual media productions, such as feature films,
television shows or documentaries. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Thom
Watson, D-Bath, and co-sponsored by Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick.
It was held over from the last session.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or