Cape Elizabeth council spitballs wide range of goals

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council this week discussed communication, the Greenbelt trail system, and walkability and pedestrian access as part of its goal-setting process.

Aside from goals mentioned by many councilors, suggestions regarding cellular phone service and a ban on plastic bags were discussed briefly during the Dec. 1 workshop.

One of the more frequently mentioned topics was the need for better communication with residents, as well as more citizen engagement. Councilors Patty Grennon and Jessica Sullivan both want to distribute surveys to get more feedback. 

Councilors Kathy Ray and Molly MacAuslan said they want to enhance roundtable discussions to allow councilors to respond to questions or concerns. The council held a roundtable discussion in September, but councilors just listened and didn’t engage with residents. 

Councilor Jamie Garvin said he wants to create a more active email list to send out information to residents.

Councilors said they also want to improve communication with the School Board, especially about the budget process.

After the council’s reduction of the school budget earlier this year, councilors said they want to hold meetings with the School Board early in the process next year. Grennon said she wants to clarify roles in the budget process and rebuild trust between the council and the board.

The Greenbelt Trails system was also a topic of discussion, with several ideas for goals relating to the town’s trails. MacAuslan said she wants to look at the use of deer stands on the trails and Councilor Caitlin Jordan said the council should look at all uses for the trails, particularly that horseback riders shouldn’t be banned.

The town’s conservation commission recently put out a notice to residents reminding trail users to respect other users. Town Planner Maureen O’Meara said the commission will have a meeting this spring to look at leash laws for dogs that access the trails.

Councilors also talked about working more closely with the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust.

Another topic was pedestrian access and the walkability of the town.

MacAuslan said improvements need to be made, including enhancing the town center and looking at speed limits. Sullivan said pedestrian access on Scott Dyer and Fowler roads need to be improved.

Revenue was also discussed, with Sullivan saying the overall municipal revenue stream needs to be considered, along with revenue from Fort Williams Park. Jordan agreed that there needs to be a comprehensive look at the revenue generated by the park. When former Councilor Jim Walsh suggested in October that the town implement parking fees at the park, Jordan at the time pointed out that residents don’t want fees at the park.

Councilors also mentioned other potential goals at Tuesday’s meeting, such as researching renewable energy options, passing a paper streets resolution, attracting more businesses to town, updating the Comprehensive Plan, and receiving a progress report from the Spurwink Rod & Gun Club now that its conditional license has been approved.

MacAuslan and Grennon each said they want to make it a goal to improve cell phone service in town and have 100 percent coverage.

In addition, Garvin said he wants the council to look at banning single-use plastic bags.

The workshop was the first in a series of goal-setting meetings that will be held over the next few weeks. No goals were formally adopted or approved, since the meeting was seen more as a chance for councilors to brainstorm ideas.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.