WATERVILLE —  The Waterville City Council voted Wednesday night to prohibit overnight parking on most streets during the winter, but allow parking at The Concourse and Head of Falls.

A second, final vote is needed.

Matt Skehan, director of the city’s Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments, recommended changing a city ordinance dealing with streets and sidewalks to prohibit parking on streets from midnight to 6 a.m., from Dec. 1 to April 30.

The exceptions would be at the municipal parking lot at Head of Falls and at The Concourse, the city-owned, downtown parking lot.

Skehan and police Chief Joseph Massey told the council that crews from the Public Works Department must call police if they cannot plow efficiently and safely because of parked vehicles. An officer must come to ticket vehicles, and city crews must wait for them to be towed before they can plow.

“It is completely inefficient for the Public Works Department to work a storm when there are cars on the street,” Skehan said.

Three years ago, such a ban was in effect, but the city decided to change the rules to allow people to park on the street when there were no storms.

“What happened is, it turned into an issue when more people just got so used to parking on the streets that they wouldn’t even pay attention to the storms,” Massey said.

The council discussed related issues, such as on the South End, where many people have no option but to park on the street. Councilors said the city should identify places where people may park in winter. They also said communication with people is key so they know there is a parking ban. They discussed advertising in the newspaper and on social media, as well using signs to keep people informed.

Councilor Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, said he thought the ban was a bad idea that would not serve the public. He was the lone dissenter in a 5-1 vote to approve the ban.

Ward 4 Councilor-elect Rebecca Green said she thought it was important to let people know there is going to be a ban and why the city is doing it.

“I, personally, think that whatever we do, it’s really important to be proactive about communicating,” she said.

Newly appointed Councilor Thomas Klepach, D-Ward 3, said the council could take a first vote to approve the ban Wednesday, and then explore options for when the city faces likely pushback from the community.

“It just seems like we can come to some sort of resolution that makes it good for everybody,” he said.

Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, said he was willing to approve the request Wednesday, but before the final vote, the council would talk about ideas for places in neighborhoods where people can park during the overnight ban.

Klepach was sworn in Wednesday, but Green, who defeated incumbent Councilor Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, on Tuesday, was not. Technically, she would not take office until January, but Mayhew resigned Wednesday and the city charter requires the council to vote to declare a vacancy in Ward 4 and advertise for the seat.

The council voted to waive cloture, allowing it to take up an item not listed on the agenda. Councilors then voted to declare that vacancy. Green took part in Wednesday’s meeting, but she did not vote.

In other matters, councilors voted 6-0 to award a $334,000 contract to Nortrax of Hermon for snow removal equipment for the city-owned Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport. Nortrax was the low bidder in the Federal Aviation Administration process. Milton Caterpillar of Brewer bid $427,400 for the equipment.

Airport Manager Randy Marshall recommended the city award the bid to Nortrax for a John Deere 544L, with attachments including a blower, sweeper and box plow. The equipment will be funded by a 2020 bond and Marshall said the city hopes to get a 95% reimbursement from the federal government for the equipment.

City councilors voted 6-0 to choose McFarland Johnson of Freeport as the city’s primary airport consultant and Stantec Engineering Services Co., based in Canada, as the secondary airport consultant.

As part of the vote, Roy is authorized to issue a notice to proceed to McFarland Johnson for work associated with Taxiway A design and reconstruction FAA Airport Improvement Program grant for 2021. Roy also is authorized to apply for the FAA’s 2021 Airport Improvement Program grant.

The council took a second, 5-0 vote to rezone from Airport District to Airport Industrial District about 22 acres on the east side of the airport, north of the east-west runway, to allow Cenergy to construct a solar farm there. The council took a first vote Oct. 20 to approve the rezoning. Klepach had not been sworn in by the time the council voted on the item, so he did not vote on it.

Councilors took a final, 5-0 vote to accept a $64,900 offer from M&J Properties to buy Lot 7 in the Airport Road Subdivision. The council took a first vote Oct. 20 to accept the bid.

Councilors took a first, 6-0 vote to sell a tax-acquired property at 70 Violette Ave. to Run Yuan Inc. for $99,500, and a first, 6-0 vote to sell 3 Abbott St. to Hassan Alavarabalnabi for $44,000. A second vote is needed for each.

Also, the council voted 6-0 to accept an offer of $137,760 from Pine Tree Waste Services, owned by Casella Waste Systems Inc., to buy Lot 40 and part of Lot 10 at the Airport Road Subdivision.

Klepach noted that the property is next to wetlands and, depending on how it is used, those wetlands could be affected. Roy said he would talk to the proposed buyer about how the land would be used, and Thomas noted that before a second vote, the matter would be discussed and everyone would be able to have a say.

Officials praised City Clerk Patti Dubois for organizing Tuesday’s election during the pandemic. Francke said she deserved a big hand and a heartfelt thanks.

“That was outstanding work, Patti — please convey that to the rest of your staff,” Francke said, prompting applause for Dubois.

Dubois said the election produced the largest turnout in her time with the city. She said the planning and execution of the event was a “Herculean task,” and the hardest one she had ever undertaken.

She thanked the election staff members, volunteers, city departments, individuals and Deputy City Clerk Sarah Cross for their work, without which the election could not have been conducted.

Dubois described Cross as a “rock star.”

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