HALLOWELL — With the major Water Street Reconstruction project set for 2018, Hallowell residents and community leaders have been working on finding additional parking in the busy downtown district.

The City Council met for the first time this year to discuss this and other issues at City Hall on Winthrop Street. The meeting Monday night was the first for new councilors Sophie Gabrion, Ward 2, and Diano Circo, Ward 4, who were sworn in Jan. 4 along with the inauguration of Mayor Mark Walker.

To tackle the parking issue, Walker appointed Gabrion, former councilor Lynn Irish, chairman Frank O’Hara and five others to the Parking/Alternative Transportation Committee which will look at downtown Hallowell parking issues and seek ways to add more permanent parking.

“I suspect this will be an active committee,” Walker said. “They have an idea of (what they) need to focus on. I see this focused on Water Street reconstruction and finding alternative parking solutions.”

Gabrion lives on Water Street and said parking has been a concern for years and the calls for more parking will only get louder as the reconstruction project approaches.

“Sometimes it’s easier to just pay the $15 parking ticket so I know I can get to bed by 10 p.m. if I have an early meeting the next day,” Gabrion said about the lack of parking near her apartment.

Walker said he and City Manager Stefan Pakulski have been negotiating with an individual for nearly two years to acquire a piece of land near Water Street that the city would turn into a permanent parking lot. The council met in executive session to discuss the ongoing pursuit of the property, but Walker would not discuss details of the session.

Walker also filled seats on the Cultural and Solid Waste Advisory committees but shelved reappointing a Stevens School committee after Councilor Alan Stearns proposed using Pakulski as the point of contact to keep everyone informed about campus developments.

Other items on the council’s agenda included unanimously accepting a $1,041 donation from the Hallowell Citizens Initiative Committee toward the preservation of the Hallowell fire station tower and accepting a water rescue boat purchased and repaired by the Hallowell Fire Department.

The council had planned to hold a public hearing and then vote to declare an abandoned building at 8 Sampsons Row dangerous and a nuisance. But Code Enforcement Officer Maureen Aucoin said she skipped a step in the process.

Aucoin sent a letter in October telling the owners of the building, Joshua Libby and Amanda Beeler, to remove junk and debris by Nov. 1 or the city would take legal action. Aucoin said the notice should have come from the county sheriff’s department. Since she has received no response from the owners or their mortgage company, she requested the discussion be tabled until next month.

“It seems like (8 Sampsons Row) could go down in a snowstorm with a kid in it,” Councilor Alan Stearns said.

Circo noted that residents of his neighborhood had approached him about buildings in disrepair. The council agreed to take a harder look at these and other deteriorating properties.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ


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