2017-02-24 / Front Page

Karytko condemns committees

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK— Selectmen in Kennebunk have created a pair of ad hoc committees designed to study those who craft studies for the town, but had to do so over the stiff objections of board member Ed Karytko.

At their Feb. 15 meeting, selectmen created a seven member Lower Village master plan working group — charged with vetting eight vendor applications submitted to create a master plan for the long-term development the town’s historic shopping district — and a five member beach parking assessment working group — which will determine if the lone applicant to study the town’s parking problems is up to the job.

However, Ed Karytko said neither proposed study is worth the estimated expense. The Lower Village planning process is expected to cost $75,000, with funds to come from the area’s TIF district fund, which increases as assessed property values grow within its borders.

The parking plan bid came in at $14,500, with Maine Traffic Resources of Gardiner submitting the only proposal.

“Is there any doubt that 224 parking spaces and 10,000 parking permits issued are at odds with one another,” said selectboard Chairman Dick Morin, rhetorically, expressing his view of the need for the town to wrap its head around the disparity.

But Karytko said finding a solution “is not rocket science.”

“I don’t think there’s any magic here,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything they can say that will make a difference in what we plan to do. A lot of the answers are obvious. It’s common sense.”

“When the downtown was redone, do you thing that could have been engineered on the back of an envelope?” Morin shot back. “I’m being serious. I think we need expertise.”

“We feel there is a need for a neutral, professional person to come in and give us some advise on all of this,” Economic Development Director Mat Eddy said.

However, Karytko attempted to make his point by quizzing Chris Osterrieder, the town’s director of community development, suggesting after the short Q&A that Kennebunk has talent enough on hand to tackle the issue without spending money “for someone to tell us what we already know.”

But Osterrieder begged off.

“This isn’t as much a parking issue as a demand issue, and someone has really got to delve into that, and that’s not an area where I focus my expertise,” he said.

“We have more people coming in that we have parking spaces. We already know that,” Karytko said, summing up the root cause of the problem he expects the consultant will uncover. Simple enforcement of existing parking rules is all that is required he said.

“The problem is not that we don’t have an ordinance, it’s that we don’t have any signs,” Police Chief Robert MacKenzie said.

“So, we need signs then,” said Karytko, still testing if he could solve the problem before spending $14,500.

“A lot of them,” MacKenzie said.

At that Selectman Shiloh Schulte cut off debate by moving the question. Karytko did vote to create the working group, based, he said, on the fact it is only assessing the qualifications of Maine Traffic Resources, and not yet spending money on its services.

The working group will include Eddy and Osterrieder, Lower Village committee member Betsy Smith, and economic development committee member Rachel Phipps as well as two residents of the beach areas.

Meanwhile, Karytko did stand his ground on the Lower Village master plan, casting the lone vote against creating its working group. Again, he objected to spending money to have someone create a planning document, especially when, in his view, Lower Village may not need as big an overhaul as some might think.

“The thing I hear from people on the street is, enough is enough,” he said. “We don’t need to spend money doing a lot of different things in this town. It is what it is.”

Karytko said be believed a few local residents and town officials could create as good a plan as any professional planning firm, wondering aloud whether residents, if polled, might suggest leaving well enough alone.

“Is there something we don’t already know? I’m not in favor of having someone from Boston come up here and tell me what I want my community to look like,” he said.

The eight firms that responded to the town’s request for qualifications to draft the Lower Village master plan including BETA Group Inc. of Manchester, New Hampshire; Claster Landscape Architecture and Planning of South Portland; Terrence J. De- Wan & Associates of Yarmouth; Dodson & Flinker Inc. of Florence, Massachusetts; Harriman Associates of Boston; Milone & MacBroom of Portland; Mitchell & Associates of Portland; and, Richardson and Associates Landscape Architects of Saco.

The team deciding who will get the $75,000 contract will include Eddy, Osterrieder, Public Services Director Eric Labelle, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laura Dolce, and Miriam Whitehouse, a member of the town’s economic development committee, along with Nina Spencer and Rick Taranto, both members of the Lower Village committee.

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

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