2016-08-12 / Front Page

Cape council makes plea for public input

By Wm. Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH — Anyone wanting to have their say on what goes on in Cape Elizabeth will not be able to say one month from now that they haven’t been given the chance.

Following a successful listening session organized by Town Councilors James Garvin, Patricia Grennon and Sara Lennon, a second forum will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, September 19, in the middle school cafeteria.

“The purpose of the event is for town councilors to be able to reach out to citizens to obtain feedback from them and to encourage public participation on our 2017 goal-setting process,” Grennon said.

In January, the council adopted a comprehensive list of 44 goals it hoped to accomplish during 2016, divided into areas of ordinances and policies, budget and finance, sustainability, public facilities and property, and communications and outreach.

That list, along with a spreadsheet of which councilor was slated to take the lead on each topic, and when was to be completed, is available on the town website capeelizabeth.com/news/2016/tcgoals2016.html.

Prior to that event, three forums targeted to more specific topics will be held in August.

At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 17, the Fort Williams Advisory Committee will solicit feedback at town hall on its concept plan for an amphitheater at the park’s former military parade ground, where most of the old concrete bleachers were recently torn out, having crumbled into disrepair.

A semi-circle of seating for 350 is planned for an area around the nearby ballfield, for which landscape architectural firm Mitchell & Associates has estimated at $440,000 construction cost.

“The proposed amphitheater will provide a unique out- door space for community gatherings, theatrical and musical performances and school graduations,” committee Chairman Mark Russell wrote in an April memo to the town council.

According to Public Works Director Robert Malley, that cost does not include does not include the potential need for ledge removal, installation of a water line extension to the site, or construction of a handicap access ramp.

In May, the council appropriated funds for the project, but reserved the right to review and approve the project before releasing any money, making clear that public input will weigh heavily on their decision.

“Before it comes back to the council I’d like to see it’s been vetted by the public,” Chairman Molly MacAuslan said at the time.

Once approved and funded, work on the amphitheater could begin as early as next spring.

In another forum to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, August 22, at town hall Maine Game Warden Cory Lounder will be give an overview of state hunting laws while Cape Elizabeth Police Capt. Brent Sinclair will provide details on local hunting regulations.

“We get many questions about where one can hunt, how to post property, and where to park,” Police Chief Neil Williams said, noting that the event is timed to the start of bow hunting season, September 10.

One of the council’s goals for 2016 is to “review of all policies relating to archery hunting in the community.”

That need was suggested by Councilor Lennon, who complained at a January 7 workshop about recent run-ins with bowhunters on her property, off Cranbrook Road.

“There have been a lot of not-pleasant-at-all interactions, and people hunting in what is basically our back yards, and many of these people are not from Cape Elizabeth, leaving many citizens feeling quite intimidated, and even afraid, especially children,” she said at the time.

Lennon initially proposed a ban on bow hunting in town. However, her fellow councilor preferred to schedule an education session before hunting began again, and to redouble town efforts to make sure tree stands are properly placed and marked.

Finally, the Cape Elizabeth Community Services Committee will host a forum on at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 25, 2016 in the High School cafeteria to gain public input on use of the Donald L. Richards pool and fitness center.

The pool area is currently closed for new air handling system, along with renovations to the adjacent locker rooms.

“As we move forward after the pool reopens, community services would like to make sure we are providing programs and implementing procedures that make both the fitness center and pool a safe, enjoyable, affordable experience for the greatest number of users,” Community Services Director Russell Packett said in a press release announcing the forum.

Following presentations by Packett and Fitness Center Supervisor Andrew Kemp on how the pool and fitness center have been utilized in the past, the floor will be open to suggestions from the public.

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