Scarborough, South Portland managers list goals for 2015

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SCARBOROUGH — Private citizens aren’t the only ones who make New Year’s resolutions.

Town Manager Tom Hall and South Portland City Manager Jim Gailey are poised with their respective lists of goals and aspirations for 2015.

“There are a number of initiatives I have, and I think they’re consistent with the council’s goals, as well,” Hall said on Tuesday. 

An improvement that has been requested by residents and that the Town Council intends to act upon,  he said, is to “make significant progress on civic engagement” through a “communication strategy.” 

“We can, as an organization, always do better in terms of making information available to the public. It’s a constant thing we struggle with, and I think we need to take it on as a project and improve on it,” Hall said. “I think we can improve on the efficiency … and offering up information timely and accurately.”

Part of the communication strategy will likely include a bigger presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. “A big part of the convo, initially, is to sort out how we fit into those systems,” Hall said.

Long-range facility planning is also on the horizon, with a comprehensive survey that looks five to 10 years into the future and would involve ranking the town’s capital needs.

“It’s long past the time that we have a community-wide comprehensive discussion and identify that list of needs and prioritize them,” Hall said.

Many facilities within Scarborough are in need of major renovation or new construction that won’t be fixed with routine maintenance, he said. 

“For example, at the staff level, we know we have a need for a new Public Safety building or massive renovation of the current one,” Hall said.

The School Department will also continue an internal review of facilities. Once information has been compiled, projects will be ranked depending on their needs.

“Obviously, we need to be sensitive to the taxpayers, too,” Hall said.  

He also said there remains “great untapped potential under Haigis Parkway.”

With 270 acres of property that can be developed, the town in 2015 should consider “being open to different types of incentives to help jump-start development,” Hall said. 

In the area of environmental sustainability, the town will continue the process of replacing gasoline-powered municipal vehicles with electric vehicles. “That’s an overall goal of the comprehensive energy plan to reduce the carbon footprint,” Hall said.

The town will also consider adding a public charging station for electric vehicles, he said. 

South Portland

In South Portland, many items on the docket for 2015 will focus on sustainability. 

Now in the final week of the application process, city officials will soon vet candidates for the job of sustainability coordinator, whose responsibility will be to “help with the implementation of the city’s Climate Action Plan,” Gailey said Tuesday. 

In keeping with the plan, the city will also continue its efforts to develop a solar farm, he said, and continue to look at ways to reduce City Hall’s environmental impact. 

Gailey said he will distribute a memo informing employees that each department will share one trash can, but have a recycling can in each office.

“You take their trash away, you make them think,” he said.

Inspired by ecomaine’s efforts, offering a composting service for city offices might be “the next step in continuing to reduce what is going out of our building for solid waste,” Gailey said. 

Additional city goals, he said, include closing on the sale of the South Portland Armory property; continuing to develop the general fund and capital improvement budgets; exploring ways to increase citywide valuation to offset increases on the tax rate, and redeveloping the Main Street streetscape to better integrate the roadway into the neighborhood.

The city will also begin the first phase of construction of the new community service facility on Highland Avenue, which will house the Public Works and Transit Departments, Gailey said. 

South Portland, he said, will “continue to provide the best services and experiences for the residents, businesses and the visitors of our great community.”

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @AcquistoA

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.