2017-07-07 / Community

News Briefs

SWAP SHOP — Selectman Deborah Beal, presented with flowers, gifts and a standing ovation from her peers at the start of her last board meeting, June 27, will not be leaving public service entirely. Her seat was captured in the June 13 election by William Ward, a former member of the board. Ward was serving on the town budget board and vacated that position when he returned to the selectboard July 1.

In return, Beal applied for and was appointed to Ward’s budget board seat, with a term to last through June 30, 2020. Beal, was, she said, the fourth woman in Kennebunk history to serve on the board of selectmen, and the first to “term out,” by serving the maximum time (eight years) allowed under the town charter.

HIT AND RUN — An Arundel woman has been arrested following a traffic accident in which she allegedly hit and killed a pedestrian in South Portland, then fled the scene.

In a press release, Det. Sgt. Christopher Todd of the South Portland Police Department said Kristen Hodak, 29, was charged with operating under the influence thereby causing the death of another person and failing to stop for an accident that resulted in death.

The former charge is a Class B crime, punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine, while the latter is a Class C offence, carrying a maximum penalty on its own of up to five years jail time and a $5,000 fine.

According to Todd, officers responded to Cummings Road, near the rear entrance of the Target department store plaza, just after midnight on Sunday, July 2. Declared dead at the scene was Joseph LePage, 24, of Hollis, who was reportedly “walking south bound along the roadway when he was apparently struck” by Hodak’s car. There are no sidewalks in that area.

Cummings Road was closed for several hours. Investigating officers quickly found Hodak’s disabled and unattended vehicle about 2 miles away from LePage’s body.

“She had initially received a ride to a nearby friend’s house, but later returned to the scene of the crash,” Todd wrote. “At this point the investigation is still on going, and it is unsure if anything other than alcohol contributed to the crash.”

As of Monday, Hodak was being held without bail at the Cumberland County Jail. An initial court date was not available at press time.

ROAD WORK — At their June 27 meeting, Kennebunk selectmen awarded a contract to rebuild Woodhaven Drive and Colonial Drive to Shaw Brothers Construction of Gorham, for $772,954. Five bids were submitted, ranging from Shaw’s low offer, up to $1.04 million, turned in by D&C Construction of Waterboro. One Kennebunk firm, BREX Corp., put in for the work, bidding $867,273.

According to Selectman Deborah Beal, a recent road survey listed the Woodhaven/ Colonial combination as “the worst road in town.”

“This road is going to be fully reconstructed as if it’s a brand new road,” Town Engineer Chris Osterrieder told selectmen, adding that the final bid came in about $100,000 under budget. Funds for the work were included in the town’s fiscal year 2017 capital improvement budget.

Osterrieder said all significant work should be completed during the current construction season, to be followed by a final overlay of pavement next spring.

FIREWORK FINES — Just in time for the July 4 holiday, Kennebunk selectmen set fines for violation the new fireworks ordinance approved by town voters June 13. At their June 27 meeting, the board set a penalty structure of $50 for a first offense, $100 for the second, and $250 for the third.

Under the new rules, use of consumer fireworks is banned except for Independence Day and New Year’s Eve, from 9 a.m. until 12:30 a.m. the following day. However, even on those days, residents must now obtain a permit from the fire department, to be issued on the day of use.

Permits will be denied of the Maine Forestry Service has declared the day to be a Class 4 or Class 5 fire danger day. Residents may also take out two additional permits per year, “based on good cause shown” to “accommodate special occasions.”

Deborah Beal, the lone selectman to vote against sending the ordinance to voters, asked if residents would be given warnings on the first holiday following passage of the ordinance.

“Absolutely. Educating the public is first and foremost on public safety’s mind,” Town Manager Mike Pardue said. “It’s all about education, it’s not about being punitive at this point.”

Pardue said police officers will actually issue permits on the spot when coming across violators and advising of the need to obtain permission before shooting off fireworks in the future. Possession of consumer fireworks remains legal under a state law passed in 2012.

PARKS PICKLE — Just 14 days after Kennebunk voters approved a new parks ordinance, codifying rules and regulations for 19 parks and three public beaches in town, selectmen have issued a call for amendments.

As adopted, the ordinance says all parks and beaches “shall be closed from dusk until dawn.” The requested change makes an exception for the beaches, as well as Ethelyn Stuart Marthia Park, Tibbetts Plaza and the Waterhouse Center.

The ordinance also says, “No person or organization shall bring, carry, or use in any way knives, or other weapons of any kind, or any fireworks or other explosive substance of any kind.”

If approved by voters in November, that sentence would be appended with the disclaimer, “unless otherwise permitted by law.”

However, that change seemed nonsensical to John Costin, a member of the town’s budget board.

“What are we outlawing if we are allowing anything permitted by law?” he asked, taking the podium at the selectboard’s June 27 meeting. “If its not permitted by law, it’s already not permitted in the parks.”

“We’re following legal council’s guidance. I really wouldn’t be prepared to articulate [beyond] that,” Town Manager Mike Pardue said.

“Seriously? We voted on this a week ago, and no one knows what it says?” Costin said.

“This is an amendment to bring us into compliance with state law,” board chairman Dick Morin said.

Among other things, Pardue noted, state law allows possession of a knife with a blade smaller than four inches. Technically, even a pocketknife is banned under the ordinance as adopted by voters. Morin said the discrepancy did not come to the board’s attention until “the day after” the June 13 vote. That only seemed to add fuel to Costin’s rhetorical fire.

“Do these things not get a legal review before they go to voters?” he asked.

Morin said they do, and the knife issue was simply “overlooked.” In earlier versions of the ordinance, selectmen had hoped to ban firearms and the use of aerial drones. However, conflicts with state and federal law forced the removal of those provisons.

The ordinance edits now go to a second reading at the July 11 selectmen’s meeting, at which time the board promised Costin a better enumeration of what weapons the proposed change allows and prohibits.

APPOINTMENTS — At its June 17 meeting, the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen appointed Rachel Drive resident Nicholas Bartenhagen to the town’s energy efficiency advisory committee until June 30, 2019. Jennifer Armstrong of Sayward Street was appointed to the same group through June 30, 2018.

Bartenhagen, a retired physician, served on several similar municipal groups in Vermont, before moving to Maine. Armstrong, who co-owns Kennebunkport fiber arts store JAK Designs, noted on her application that the business obtained “green certification” when founded in San Francisco 20 years ago.

The energy efficiency advisory committee has one additional vacancy, with a term to June 30, 2018.

CROSS TALK — Keying off a resident request, Kennebunk selectmen are mulling the creation of two crosswalks on Beach Avenue, at Surf Lane and Crescent Avenue.

“The lack of crosswalks in that area is concerning. We do need to address that,” Town Engineer Chris Osterrieder said at the June 27 selectboard meeting.

Osterrieder deemed it “reasonably safe” to peg the cost of the crosswalks at about $3,000, each. That outlay, he said, includes modification of sidewalks on the shore side of Beach Avenue to create a ramp in the curb, making the sidewalk wheelchair assessable, and to create ‘safe landing zones’ on the opposite side of the street, where there is not sidewalk.

Because cars will not be allowed to park within 20 feet of the new crosswalks, Beach Avenue will lose three parking spaces at each site.

Selectmen sent the proposal to a final reading at their July 11 meeting.

Compiled by Staff Writer Duke Harrington. He can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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