2012-12-21 / Community

In the News

– Compiled by Staff Writer Jack Flager

City councilor says goodbye

SOUTH PORTLAND – South Portland District 1 Councilor Tom Coward said goodbye after his last meeting Monday, Dec. 17.

Coward will begin his term as a Cumberland County commissioner Jan. 1, and plans to tender his resignation to the city just before he starts at his new position.

A special election will be held to fill Coward’s District 1 seat. No date has yet been set for the election.

“I think this is the best-run municipality in Maine. It’s one of the best-run places I’ve ever lived, and that is down to (city manager) Jim Gailey and his staff,” Coward said.

Coward was elected in 2008 to a first term on the council, then was re-elected in 2011. Neither of his elections were contested, but he thanked those that disagreed with him and held him accountable nonetheless.

“This is the lowest rung on the ladder of democracy in this country. We all live next door to the people we represent,” Coward said. “It works best when people do call us, hold us to account, tell us they think we’re doing the wrong thing, and encourage us to do what they think is the right thing.”

City signs on to brook project

SOUTH PORTLAND – Early in December, environmental experts presented the Trout Brook Watershed Management Plan to the Cape Elizabeth Town Council and received an unofficial endorsement of the direction it is taking. On Monday, Dec. 17, that same plan was presented to South Portland, where Trout Brook turns into Mill Creek and feeds Casco Bay.

Much of the city council’s questions focused on community outreach to inform residents of how they can practice more environmentally sound methods of landscaping that will prevent harmful materials from entering into the brook through the watershed.

Kate McDonald of the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District said student involvement at many levels will be key to monitoring the quality of Trout Brook once changes are put in place, and the goal in funding the project is to “get funding from everybody besides the municipalities as much as we can,” she said.

Trout Brook is one of five “urban impaired streams” in South Portland, said Fred Dillon of the city’s water resources protection department. The others are Long Creek, Red Brook, Kimball Brook (which feeds Trout Brook) and Barberry Creek.

Mayor Tom Blake gave approval from the city that the authors of the plan were hoping for at the end of the special workshop.

“I want to say how pleased we are with what you’re doing, express our satisfaction and tell you we’re here to support you,” Blake said.

Amnesty offered on parking tickets

SOUTH PORTLAND – South Portland residents will have a chance to pay back unpaid parking tickets without any late fees during an amnesty period from Dec. 26 to Feb. 28.

Usually, an individual who is issued a ticket has 15 days to either pay the fee to the city or request a court date to contest the ticket. If the fee is not paid in the 15-day window, it is doubled. During the amnesty period, the city will accept unpaid tickets at face value.

“I think this is a nice olive branch approach,” said Councilor Patti Smith, who added the timing is appropriate at “New Year’s resolution time.”

South Portland City Manager Jim Gailey said there are hundreds of unpaid tickets still on the books in the city. The amnesty period offers the city an opportunity to collect some revenue, as well as extend a good-faith gesture to residents before ordinance changes take place that will require parking tickets to be paid before a vehicle can be registered.

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