OAKLAND — The Oakland Public Library is getting a facelift — at no cost to the town.

An outdoor reading space will be created near the 18 Church St. building, after town councilors accepted an offer from the ShineOn Cass Foundation to finance the construction at a meeting Wednesday evening. The project is still in its early stages and there is no site plan or cost estimate yet, according to Town Manager Gary Bowman.

“This is something that will benefit the users of the library,” Bowman said. “We have a large following of younger people, … and this is one more thing to make the library more attractive and more appealing.”

The philanthropic offer took councilors by surprise Wednesday.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Councilor Dana Wrigley, who filled in as chairman for Michael Perkins. Perkins, who is also a state representative, was absent for a legislative session.

The ShineOn Cass Foundation has partnered with the town of Oakland in the past, supporting events and causes that include the summer Oakfest celebration. The organization was created to honor the legacy of a 17-year-old Messalonskee High School student, Cassidy Charette, who was killed in a hayride accident in 2014.

Also on Wednesday, councilors approved changing the title of Oakland police supervisor Rick Stubbert from captain to deputy chief. The vote was a unanimous 4-0. Bowman said the change does not come with an alteration of Stubbert’s job description or pay, but is “just more of a correct way of defining what Rick Stubbert does over at the Police Department.”

Stubbert is second-in-charge at the department, under Chief Michael Tracy, who said he “strongly supports” the title change. Stubbert is the acting chief when Tracy is on vacation, according to Bowman.

Councilor Harold Buzzell asked whether the department eventually would seek to hire a captain later to bridge the levels between sergeant and deputy chief. Tracy said he “(did) not foresee that.”

“We’re not changing the structure of how things are work,” Tracy said. “We’re not asking for things to work any differently; we’re just asking for the title to change from captain to deputy chief.”

Bowman and Tracy said the titles are consistent with those of other departments throughout the state.

“It’s a mixed bag (with second-in-command police officers in Maine),” the town manager said. “Some have deputy chiefs, like Skowhegan, Waterville, Winthrop and Augusta; and some have captains and lieutenants, like Winslow, Fairfield and Oakland. I really think the title change makes a difference in terms of perception. It commands a little more attention than the captain title.”

Bowman was an Oakland police officer for 15 years before being appointed town manager in 2014.

Officials chose the winning bid for a police cruiser Wednesday, selecting the lower of two figures, at $34,247, from Quirk Auto. Tracy noted that Quirk typically “gets the state bid for state police (and is) always coming in the lowest.”

Following an executive session, councilors unanimously voted to continue researching a plan to build a solar array near its transfer station. The proposed solar panels would generate roughly 183,000 kilowatts. That, Bowman said, would be enough to “offset all the power that the town utilizes.”

Bowman said officials reviewed Wednesday in executive session two bids the town had received for the project. One was from Searsport-based Sundog Solar, which has expressed interest in the project for about a year. The other was from ReVision Energy, which oversaw the $1.6 million solar panel installation at the Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District in Waterville. ReVision has branches in South Portland and Liberty, in addition to locations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Bowman said ReVision submitted its bid somewhat unexpectedly, after telling the town it had been too busy to take on the project.

Bowman said the array would be built on a “big flat area” off Town Farm Road, where the municipality used to store construction and demolition debris.

In preparation for the fifth annual Oakfest celebration at the end of July, the council voted to allow a group of local businesses to use the town’s parking lot at the corner of Center and Main streets on July 25.

“The business group ends up renting an event tent and they put it up there, and it’s just kind of a meet-and-greet for local businesses and for people who want to come and talk with them,” Bowman said. “And there’s a barbecue.”

Oakfest will last through Sunday, July 28, and will feature live music performances, an open-air market and other family-friendly events.

Bids on two vacant lots on Zachary Drive that had been foreclosed on were discussed in another executive session Wednesday. The vote was 3-1 for Bowman to “negotiate (the sale) within the range discussed,” which councilors said they could not disclose. Bowman said earlier Wednesday that he thought the bids were lower than the council would feel comfortable approving. Buzzell voted against the motion and Councilor Bob Nutting approved it reluctantly.

Officials unanimously accepted the lowest of five bids for the town’s summer paving projects. Maine-ly Paving Services, of Canaan, was awarded the job at total price of $219,480, with materials just under $75 per ton.

Over the next two months, the council will meet twice instead of biweekly. Summer meetings will take place Wednesday, July 17, and Wednesday, Aug. 14.

 

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.