GARDINER — City Council thanked a departing councilor for his four years of service and welcomed a new member Wednesday at its inauguration and first meeting of the year.
Councilors also passed an ordinance change to allow camping on city property for special events.
The new councilor, Terry Berry, a real estate agent with an office in Hallowell, won an uncontested race for District 1, a seat previously held by Chris Leake. District 1 encompasses most of the city north of Cobbosseecontee Stream. Berry, the owner of Century 21 Alliance, has been a Gardiner resident since 2011.
City Clerk Deirdre Berglund also swore in councilors Patricia Hart from District 2, Richard Heath from District 3 and Philip Hart from District 4, who were all re-elected in uncontested races. The Harts are not related.
Mayor Thomas Harnett thanked Leake for his service after the councilors were sworn in, saying he could tell Leake always gave a great deal of thought to each vote.
“Whenever you spoke, it’s because the issue was very important to you, and you always had an insightful comment to make or an insightful question to pose,” Harnett said.
Leake said it was an honor to serve with the others in his four years on the City Council.
“I have learned so much from all of you. Through your words, through your actions,” he said. “It’s true leadership, and you don’t see it unless you’re in this room on a monthly basis.”
After the ceremony, councilors held the final public reading of an ordinance change to will allow camping during special events.
City officials changed the ordinance after being approached by organizers for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s BikeMaine asking if the week-long bicycle ride planned for September could use the city’s Waterfront Park as an overnight site during the event. Currently, overnight camping isn’t allowed on city property. The event could bring up to 350 cyclists and around 40 staffers to the city.
The change will go into effect 30 days from Wednesday. The ordinance still requires applicants, including organizers for BikeMaine, to get approval from the council before being allowed to camp on city property.
Councilors also approved slightly lowering the fee the city planned to charge the town of Randolph for its residents to use the library’s services.
Council at its first meeting in December approved raising the fees charged to the four member communities — Litchfield, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner — for using the Gardiner Public Library by 3 percent.
The amount each community pays is based on a formula that uses the number of items checked out by residents, but the library froze the fee for the last two years. Randolph, however, would have end up paying more with the 3 percent increase than it would if the cost was still calculated by usage, Anne Davis, director of Gardiner Public Library, said.
Councilors approved charging Randolph $17,328 a year, $152 less than the 3 percent increase previously approved by council. Even with the increases, the total projected revenue from the communities would only rise by about $1,000, totaling roughly 24 percent of the library’s $375,000 budget. Gardiner pays the remainder.