THORNDIKE — The town’s problematic sand and salt shed situation remains unresolved after voters failed to act Saturday during Thorndike’s annual Town Meeting.

An article, which proposed “a bond borrowing up to $400,000 for the purpose of financing the costs of the construction of the salt and sand shed” was moved up from 39th to seventh on the agenda, but could not garner enough support from the 117 residents in attendance. The meeting for the town of roughly 900 residents was held in the parking lot of the Thorndike Fire Department.

Residents passed the bulk of items on the 41 article agenda for a $745,522.77 budget.

Ultimately, the sand and salt shed vote means “nothing,” said Greg Falzetta, who chairs Thorndike’s Sand & Salt Shed Committee.

“The Sand & Salt Shed Committee was authorized by the former selectmen,” Falzetta said. “Basically it’s a fact finding committee. We’re trying to gather as much information for the town irregardless of cost.”

The Sand & Salt Shed Committee, which formed in July, is made up of Falzetta, Doreen Berry, Heidi Sorenson, Wendy Trafton and Norman Vashon. The committee next meets Monday and may meet again Aug. 31, if needed. The committee will present its findings to the newly appointed Board of Selectmen.

The Town Meeting, originally scheduled for March 21, was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic. Normally held indoors at the town office, the meeting took place outside the fire station with citizens seated 6 feet apart in compliance with health and safety regulations.

Before the meeting, citizens spoke of the potential for a “new guard” and “old guard” that would set the agenda for the town moving forward. The new Board of Selectmen is a mixture of both, multiple townspeople said.

Sand and salt

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued a citation in early 2019, claiming the town’s current stockpile of salt and sand at 95 Unity Road contaminated Hall Brook Stream. The town paved a new site for the shed behind the post office on Mill Road in November 2019.

Thorndike was awarded a variance for last winter and another through the 2020-21 winter season since the annual Town Meeting was delayed five months. The town recently launched a Sand & Salt Shed Committee to explore plans and gather information for potential structures.

Former selectman Joshua Ard addressed the crowd regarding a $265,000 proposal he received from Iron Horse Structures in North Eastham, Massachusetts. He said the town of Freedom incorporated a similar structure from the same company. Ard said the town also received a different estimate of $650,000 from an engineering firm. The proposals did not contain all of the same specifics, making a comparison difficult.

Generally, citizens expressed concerns over not having enough bids and options for the shed, questioning the wide ranging cost estimates.

Some worried about additional expenses for the lower cost proposal, such as upkeep. After some back and forth between citizens, Ard and Don Berry, there was a motion to vote. By a show of hands, the article did not pass.

Board election

Thorndike citizens chose an all-new board, but because the meeting was months late, the Board of Selectmen appointments are only until the 2021 annual Town Meeting slated for March.

First Selectman Robert Nelson, a longtime board member, and incumbent Third Selectman Michael Mayer did not seek reelection.

With nominations taken from the floor, former town clerk Doreen Berry topped Waldo County Sheriff Jeff Trafton to become first selectman, 59-56. The results drew mixed verbal reaction from the crowd.

“I know what small towns need, and I’m looking to look out for the small town wants,” Doreen Berry said.

Trafton then topped Falzetta, 65-44, for the second selectman position. Trafton, 58, referenced community events such as the town’s bicentennial celebration, Halloween party and Christmas/Thanksgiving community meal as part of the engagement he’d like to see the board continue.

“I’d like to see the town continue to move in a positive direction,” Trafton said.

Ard, the incumbent second selectman, fell to Bob Carter for third selectman, 61-53. The 62-year-old Carter, a Thorndike resident for 20 years, is no stranger to the board, having previously served six years as a selectman.

“People in town like me,” Carter said after his win.

An agenda item authorizing “operation of adult-use marijuana establishments,” so long as they are in compliance with state rules, passed by a vote of 34-25.

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