The Feb. 5 Wiscasset selectmen's meeting included numerous staff changes. Road Commissioner Doug Fowler has resigned as of Feb. 15, Richard Gaeth is the new director of the wastewater treatment plant, and Dennis Simmons is the Emergency Management Services director as of early March and will work some before then.
Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Thompson said that after the experience last July 4, when her department didn’t have enough volunteers to adequately plan or staff the parade and waterfront events, she was requesting a town-wide committee to plan the July 4 events. Last year's parade had no grand marshal, and certain events at the waterfront were canceled.
Thompson proposed the committee be made up of people from all departments, to establish protocol and get enough volunteers. The selectmen agreed to the idea.
The Department of Environmental Protection gave the town the go-ahead to build bathrooms on or near the Main Street pier. O’Connell said it was probably better to wait until after the Maine Department of Transportation work is completed in October, and just go with porta-potties for this season. There was a discussion of who was responsible for maintenance, which appeared to rest with Parks and Recreation, and the cost of the toilets came up when James Kochan said he “crunched the numbers” and came up with a figure of several thousands of dollars based on the cost to keep the recreational pier restrooms operating.
Selectman Kimberly Andersson said the town had received so many complaints about the state of the porta-potties, she believed something should be done, but she understood the importance of waiting until after the construction was complete. She recommended cleaning the porta-potties more regularly this summer. Kochan also said the town's charge to pier merchants was too low, based on what other towns charge their seasonal waterfront merchants. Interim Town Manager John O’Connell will look into it before contracts are signed.
Mason Station LLC asked to dump about 15,000 gallons of wastewater into the town sewage system over several days. The water is a combination of rainwater and groundwater present when an electric transformer exploded, and Ransom Engineering, who did the original studies of the site, had said no harmful elements existed after the water was passed through a filter. Gaeth said the system could handle it and recommended charging Mason Station LLC the going rate of 13 cents per gallon, but questions arose as to whether the corporation could or would pay. Selectmen preferred to have Mason Station LLC pay a hazardous water disposal company to truck the wastewater away.
Selectmen plan to meet Feb. 13 with some of the taxpayers whose properties will be foreclosed on for nonpayment of taxes on Feb. 11. At that workshop, decisions will be made about which taxpayers will be given the opportunity to work with the town to make up the tax payments, which properties will be sold, and which will be kept for town purposes.