WATERVILLE — City councilors have committed to reducing carbon emissions, transitioning to clean energy and taking steps to make Waterville more resilient against climate change.

The council voted 5-0 Tuesday night to adopt a resolution to partner with the state in its Maine Won’t Wait initiative to plan for how to protect people, preserve businesses and the local economy, and reduce the impact and cost of natural disasters.

As a partner, Waterville would receive grants to pursue ways to lower energy expenses, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase community resilience, according to the resolution. As part of Tuesday’s vote, the council designated Assistant City Manager Bill Post to work with a committee to coordinate planning, implementation and monitoring of energy and resilience projects, and to be the primary point of contact.

The city must take steps to join the partnership and become eligible to apply for grant funding, according to a memo to councilors from Post — adopt a resolution, complete a self-assessment, prioritize a list of actions and hold a public workshop to review the assessment and future actions.

Council Chair Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, said the opportunity for grant funding and resiliency planning requires that the city complete an inventory of the city’s climate readiness and hold a public forum to get input in addition to adopting the resolution.

“This will get us started by taking a look at what we have in place to address things like flooding and other particular climate-related hazards,” Green said, “and then prepare a list of action steps we can take to build our resiliency to these matters.”


She and others did not specify what kinds of actions the city could take to reach its goals.

In other matters, councilors heard a presentation from Robyn Stanicki, a planner with Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, about legislation passed in Maine that allows land banks to be established on municipal and state levels. The law allows for municipalities and the state to have legal authority to conduct certain types of activity with municipally owned properties. It includes turning problem properties into productive uses that are consistent with community goals, Stanicki said. Problem properties can be abandoned, derelict, vacant and dangerous properties, she said.

A land bank is fiscally advantageous but also is a tool for long-term planning that is helpful if a community is trying to carry out a longer vision, according to Stanicki. It is called a bank because it acts as such, with deposits and withdrawals, but they are parcels of property rather than dollars and cents, she said. Properties can be acquired in various ways, including by donation.

“The end result is that you’re able to sell that property at the end of the day to another user to become something new, and now that property is contributing to the town, contributing to the neighborhood,” Stanicki said.

Funding for the land bank may start with seed money but it would have its own self-financing mechanism. As properties are sold, revenue is used to buy and sell more. Federal funds also may be acquired by the land bank to conduct other projects at the municipal level, Stanicki said.

The council on Tuesday also voted 4-1 to authorize City Manager Steve Daly to waive the bid process and approve spending up to $20,000 from a Quarry Road revenue account toward the purchase of a $64,327 electric air compressor to be used for snowmaking. Parks & Recreation Director Matt Skehan said that until now, a diesel air compressor has been leased for that purpose. Friends of Quarry Road would pitch in $20,000 from fundraising and the balance, pending a $10,000 award from Efficiency Maine, would be financed by the city over a two-year period using venue revenue.


Councilor Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, voted against the purchase, saying he was troubled by the city’s propensity to waive bid processes. Skehan said that, moving forward, officials would allow more lead time for having a bid process. Such compressors are in high demand and inventory is scarce, he said. There are only two such compressors on the East Coast and one is being held for Waterville, he said.

Separately, former Mayor Karen Heck approached the council to raise concerns about tax increment financing districts that are created for certain developments, especially one in the downtown, where no progress has been made and buildings were placed in the district several years ago.

Green said it may be worth it to require TIF holders to report on their proposed developments and if there is a problem, see how the city could help. Heck suggested having a conversation with the realty partners.

“Absolutely — I mean, it’s the public’s money,” Mayor Jay Coelho said.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story