NORTH YARMOUTH — In the wake of a year that has seen three selectmen resign before their terms expired, the election to fill two seats on the Board of Selectmen has attracted five candidates.
Former Selectman Paul Napolitano of Mill Ridge Road is running unopposed for the final year of a seat vacated last December by Selectman Mark Girard. The resignations of Selectmen Steve Palmer in March and Clark Whittier last June created the two other vacancies.
Selectman Jim Moulton, of Mill Road, is seeking a full term after being elected last year to complete Whittier’s unexpired term. His opponents are former Selectman and state Rep. Anne Graham of Farms Edge Road, Peter Lacy of Royal Road, Paul “Chip” Metevier of Henry Road, and Nelson Smith of Ledge Road.
Kevin Desmond of New Gloucester Road is running unopposed for a three-year seat on the School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors, while David Hyde of Mountfort Road is unopposed in his bid for a five-year seat on the Cemetery Commission. Three Budget Committee seats drew no candidates.
Residents on June 14 will also vote on a proposal to redevelop North Yarmouth Memorial School.
The proposal submitted by A.H. Grover Co. of North Yarmouth includes demolishing parts of the school building, but preserving the gym and stage area as part of a space that would be approximately4,200 square feet. Grover would build a new Wescustogo Hall of approximately 4,000 square feet on an existing foundation and concrete slab, attached to the existing building.
The new Wescustogo would replace the Grange that fire destroyed in August 2013.
A 30-lot senior housing community would be built in several phases, with a buffer established between the housing project and the community center. Two commercial lots would also be developed.
Graham, 57, is married and has three sons. She is a nurse practitioner and a quality improvement specialist with Maine Quality Counts.
Graham served on the Board of Selectmen from 2007-2010, followed by two terms in the state House of Representatives, from 2010-2014. She was chairwoman of the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee.
Now on the Pineland YMCA board of directors, Graham also started the North Yarmouth Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, represented North Yarmouth on a school consolidation committee, and headed Foundation 51, the independent educational foundation for Cumberland and North Yarmouth schools. She also has served on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Health Systems Development.
“The dysfunction of the current board” inspired her to run again, Graham said, citing the loss of three members within a year, and noting that when people learn she is from North Yarmouth, they ask what is wrong with her town.
“I really want to encourage … respect between the board members, and respect for the community,” she said, “and responsibility to listen to the people of the community.”
Graham said she opposes the NYMS redevelopment proposal, adding she has heard the town is considering hiring a planner, “and I think we need to be smart about our next steps. I don’t think we need to rush to go towards the Grover plan.”
She is concerned that the town would “lose a true community center.”
“I really love this community,” Graham said. “It saddens me when there’s divisiveness, and I want to bring back a better sense of community.”
Lacy, 35, is married, has two sons, and works for the state as an attorney. He serves on the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, and sat on the Conservation Commission when he lived in Lisbon.
He grew up in Durham, and was educated in the Cumberland-North Yarmouth school system.
Lacy said he believes young families with children are not being well-represented in local government.
After attending several school redevelopment hearings, “I was a little unhappy with the tone of some of the discussion, and also how the process was working,” he said. “This redevelopment is something that’s going to affect the town for decades … this isn’t a short-term thing. So I think it’s important that we take the time and get it right.”
Lacy said he will probably vote against the Grover proposal.
“I have concerns about selling off too much town land,” he said, noting that while there are parts of the proposal he likes, and while there is likely no perfect plan, “I think there’s a better plan out there.”
Metevier, 62, is married and has four children. A North Yarmouth resident since 1985, he is an insurance claims adjuster at Bishop Adjustment Service in Yarmouth.
He has served on the Recreation Committee and volunteered with a local Little League.
“I think there’s a lot of disagreement over how far we take the development,” Metevier said. “… Certainly I’m not against development, but this is an old town, and I think controlled development needs to (happen).”
He said he favors the Grover proposal, calling it “well thought-out” and noting that “it accomplishes the slow, steady growth, and the needs of the town, especially the older residents. … We need to do something; we’ve got a golden opportunity with the school given back to us.”
Metevier noted that from his 40 years of experience with insurance, he knows the town was paid the value of the Grange hall, but if North Yarmouth does rebuild it, “we’re going to lose out on an awful lot of money.”
Moulton has spent 63 of his 66 years in North Yarmouth, is married, and has two daughters and five grandchildren. He has served 12 years on the Board of Selectmen, most recently from 2005-2008, and was on the School Board from 2002-2005 and 2012-2015.
The owner of Jim’s Auto Repair has also served six years on the Cumberland County Budget Advisory Committee and several years on the town Zoning Board of Appeals. He served on the Policy Committee during his time on the SAD 51 board.
Moulton said he supports the Grover proposal, and is running to see it come to fruition. It tackles the desires of many townspeople, such as rebuilding the Grange and preserving the school gym, he noted.
“I think it’s a great addition to our town,” with a positive impact on the tax base, he said.
Greater long-range planning, “and trying not to get the knee-jerk reaction that we seem to have come to operate under in the last three or four years,” is a goal Moulton sees for North Yarmouth.
“Every contentious issue has two sides,” Moulton said. “And if we continue to rehash it, we’ll never go anywhere. I think (the Grover proposal) is the first move forward.”
Smith, 68, is married and has two sons and six grandchildren. Now a part-time carpenter, before retirement he taught vocational carpentry, industrial arts and fire science at the Portland Arts & Technology High School, as well as leadership courses at the National Fire Academy level.
Smith’s service in town includes time on a trust fund group for North Yarmouth students, and a building committee. He has also been a longtime firefighter/emergency medical technician in both North Yarmouth and Yarmouth.
Smith estimated he has attended most of the annual Town Meetings over the past six decades.
He said he is disappointed the town “doesn’t seem to be very business friendly,” adding, “developers don’t want to do business in this town for some reason.”
“I see too many seniors and young people having to move out of town,” Smith added, noting the lack of affordable rental properties.
He said he is “very much” in support of the Grover proposal, and that he appreciated the town pursuing a request for proposals this year.
Grover’s proposal, one of two the town received, “honors what was asked for,” Smith said, referring to the rebuilding of Wescustogo Hall and preservation of the school’s gym.