WATERVILLE — The City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to extend City Manager Michael Roy’s contract for one year, after which Roy plans to retire.

Several people praised the work Roy has done and said it is important that he stay for another year to ensure a smooth transition when another city manager is hired, and that he continue seeing revitalization efforts and other projects continue.

Roy has been city manager for more than 14 years. His salary will be the same as it is now — $117,000 a year.

Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff stood to say that he had worked with Roy in many capacities and has a high regard for Roy’s integrity and the way he has conducted himself as city manger. Roy, he said, has been approachable, willing to talk about issues including pending legislation or policies affecting the city, the opioid crisis, revenue sharing, schools, unemployment and so on, and he has been willing to listen to those who agree or disagree with his decisions and engage in respectful dialogue.

“If I am disappointed in anything tonight, it is that the item on the agenda is for the extension of Mike’s contract for a year rather than a renewal or another three-year period,” Longstaff said.

Longstaff’s commendations were followed by those from police Chief Joseph Massey, Waterville attorneys Bob Marden and Jim Laliberte and Cindy Jacobs, president of the board of trustees of Waterville Public Library. Council Chairman Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, and Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 6, also spoke in favor of his contract extension.

“I think Mike’s done a really good job over the time he’s been here, and he deserves another year,” Thomas said.

The only person who stood to urge the council not to extend Roy’s contract was Cathy Weeks, a member of the Planning Board who is challenging some 70 voters who cast ballots to approve a plastic bag ban in the November election.

Kathy Weeks

Weeks cited the city’s giving a $27,000 building permit fee discount to Alfond Youth Center for a family wellness addition as one of the reasons his contract should not be renewed. The Youth Center ultimately returned the money to the city.

She also said the city allowed city employees to work at Quarry Road Recreation Area, which cost the city about $30,000, and Thomas College billed the city for use of its gymnasium the first time voting was held there.

“I do not see the leadership that Waterville needs,” Weeks said.

The only councilors who voted against extending Roy’s contract were Mike Morris, D-Ward 1, and Jay Coelho, D-Ward 5, though neither explained his reason for voting as such.

Laliberte said he has lived in the city 64 years and dealt professionally with city administrators over the years, as well as with officials in surrounding towns.

“I can say, without a doubt, Mike is the most qualified, the most knowledgeable and the easiest to get along with of all those people I’ve worked with my entire career,” Laliberte said.

Marden echoed his comments, citing integrity, stability and competence as qualities the city needs right now.

“You folks have an opportunity to have Mike here for the next year; I urge you to take it,” Marden said.

Massey said he had worked for six city managers over the last 14 years and “by far, Mike is on the top of the list.”

He said Roy is a pleasure to work with, is respectful and knowledgeable and gives constructive criticism when employees do not meet expectations.

“I think he has done a tremendous job for this city,” Massey said. “I just can’t say enough about him.”

In other matters, councilors took a first vote to remove two downtown buildings from the current downtown tax increment financing district and create a new TIF district for the structures so the owners can develop them to the tune of $10.5 million.

The Waterville City Council must take a second vote to approve an amendment to the downtown tax increment financing district that would remove two buildings just south of and adjacent to 173 Main St. from the district. The vote paves the way for a new tax district to be developed for those two buildings. The Hains building at 173 Main St. houses Portland Pie Co. at street level. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

They must take another vote to finalize the TIF issue. Councilors on March 5 took a vote of support for the plan to remove 155 and 165 Main St. from the downtown TIF district. On Tuesday, they took an official vote to remove the buildings from the district, designate a new municipal development and TIF district for the buildings and adopt a related development plan.

Kennebec Realty Partners, owned by Thomas DePre Sr. and his sons, Thomas DePre Jr. and Justin DePre, hope to renovate 52,200 square feet on four levels of the two buildings, Raegan LaRochelle, of LaRochelle Consulting, LLC, told the council.

The building at 155 Main has two stories; the building at 165 has three. Plans call for an 11,000-square-foot craft brewery and 5,200 square feet of function space in the basement, plus a bowling alley, restaurant and brew pub. The DePres hope to develop 155 Main into office space on the second floor, as well as market-rate apartments on the second and third floors of the building at 165. A new roof and windows, as well as an elevator, are planned.

Justin DePre is a graduate of Colby College and the University of Maine School of Law. Thomas DePre Sr. recently moved to Maine and lives in China. Thomas DePre Jr. is a Brown University graduate and has a background in construction and project management. They already own properties in Maine and have renovated single-family homes on Carroll Street in Waterville.

The city’s Tax Increment Financing Advisory Committee voted  to recommend a new TIF district be created so a financial incentive is provided through a credit-enhancement agreement.

Being in a separate district allows the owners a longer term for such an agreement. As part of the TIF, the owners would pay taxes on the property, and the city would reimburse them on an agreed-upon percentage of those taxes.

Councilor Phil Bofia, D-Ward 2, was the lone dissenter in the vote to designate a TIF district for the buildings and adopt the related development plan, saying he thought a 75 percent tax reimbursement was too much and that the city could use that money for a fire ladder truck, police cruisers and other needs.

The council voted 7-0 to refer to the Planning Board for a hearing and recommendation a proposal to amend the zoning ordinance to revise the definition of “professional office” in the ordinance so Golden Pond Wealth Management at 129 Silver St. can expand.

Golden Pond Wealth Management, shown Tuesday on Silver Street in Waterville, wants to add on to its building, but some neighbors in the area oppose that. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

Some neighbors oppose the plans, saying such an expansion would change the nature of their residential neighborhood. They said the city rules are designed to protect such neighborhoods. Thomas noted that the Planning Board may make a recommendation, but the council has the final say in any zone changes, and the issue would come back to the council.

The council took a final vote to postpone a plastic bag ban launch from April 22 to Sept. 1 to allow time for a city board to hear an appeal about the Nov. 6 vote to approve the ban. Councilors voted 6-0 April 2 to delay the launch until Sept. 1.

City Solicitor Willam A. Lee III suggested recently that councilors pass an amendment to the bag ban ordinance that would delay its implementation from the designated April 22 date until September after the voting issue is expected to have been resolved. Such an amendment requires two votes.

Weeks, as well as Shaun Caron, are asking the city’s Voter Registration Appeals Board to look at the eligibility of 75 voters who cast ballots on the bag ban issue in the Nov. 6 election.

The appeal by Weeks; her husband, Jonathan; and Caron says they suspect the challenged voters swore an oath of residency and submitted no other proof of residency to confirm the validity of their oath. They say that oath is a statement of intention that by its definition does not meet the standard of proof required by law and requires additional evidence that the voters established residency.

The challengers initially took the issue to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which dismissed the case and determined the ballots no longer are challenged because the opponents failed to file paperwork requested by the court.

Councilors voted to approve a $48,250 contract with Weston and Sampson for a preliminary engineering study to determine an estimated cost for the second phase of renovations for the municipal pool on North Street and estimate the scope of work needed. Another council vote is required to finalize the contract award.

The old slides have been removed from the city pool and new ones will be installed this spring.

In 2016, the city hired Sampson and Weston to do a preliminary assessment of the facility because of its deteriorating conditions. The report cited several structural, functional and safety defects. The second phase of engineering would include the main pool, wading pools, a spray pad, a filter building and a bathhouse.

The order councilors voted on Tuesday said the city hopes a preliminary engineering study can be done soon so potential grant funding and bonding amounts can be determined by June 19 and construction for repair and replacement can start in the fall of 2020.

The council also approved a $183,369 contract with B&B Paving Inc., of Hermon, for city pavement rehabilitation, with an $18,336 contingency amount added. The council also voted to award a $20,851 contract with Sherwin Williams Paint Co. for traffic paint for striping of streets, parking lots, crosswalks and parking stalls.

In addition, Mayor Nick Isgro read aloud a proclamation declaring April 26 to annually be known as “Waterville Public Library Love Day” to recognize the value of the service the library provides to the community and beyond.

 

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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