Comp Plan Minutes: 8/5/19 (Green Initiatives, Recycling, Parks and Recreation)

AUGUSTA COMPREHENSIVE PLAN COMMITTEE

MINUTES

Twelfth Meeting – Green City, Recycling, Parks and Recreation

Monday, August 5, 2019 at 6pm

Fort Western Learning Gallery at City Center

Meeting called to order at 6:00pm.

In attendance: Heather Pouliot, Brad Sawyer, Matt Nazar, Bob Corey, Bill McKenna, Duane Scott, Kevin Lind, Kim Silsby, Katie Smith, Bob LaBreck, Lesley Jones, Leif Dahlin, Bruce Chase, Kevin Judkins, Kalie Hess, Justin Frank, Lori Larochelle, Melanie Baillargeon, Mal Turgeon, Cecilia Guadalupi, Laurie Fromm, Deborah Backman, Roberta Record, and Jane Thompson. 

Welcome remarks and committee introductions:

Members of the public are welcome to share their ideas regarding the future of the city as it relates to Augusta as a “green city” and recycling, parks and recreation in our community. 

Overview of the 2007 comprehensive plan as it relates to recycling in Augusta by Lesley Jones, Director of Public Works:

  • The city recycles about 8.7% of the waste that comes in to Hatch Hill (this can be compost, e-waste, metals, wood).
  • The city stopped curbside recycling a few years ago. It did not offer single sort pickup. It had to be sorted and was limited in what could be picked up.
  • It would have cost over $250K to invest in a new recycling truck to do single stream curbside.
  • However, we have the single stream bins at public works and hatch hill as an option.
  • We did have bins at more locations. Unfortunately, people abused the program by leaving junk and trash outside of the bins, and sometimes inside of the bins, which contaminated them.
  • We should keep an eye on what the state is doing in regards to recycling – passed a ban on plastic bags and certain styrofoams. 
  • Public works offers a universal waste program, e-waste day, shredding of papers, drug take back days with the Augusta Police Department.
  • Also, working on a methane project at Hatch Hill.
  • Public works is also improving winter treatment of the roads to try to be more effective and efficient with the use of salt and liquid chemicals – started using salt brine last year to reduce costs and use of chemicals.

Overview of the 2007 comprehensive plan as it relates to “green initiatives” in Augusta by Bob LaBreck, Facilities Manager:

  • The city conducted an energy audit for all its properties about 7 years ago.
  • Since then, we have worked in phases to bring energy efficiency, upgrades, and even renewable energy to city facilities.
  • All but 2 city-owned buildings have converted to natural gas. This has generated significant savings in energy costs for the city.
  • There is a solar wall at the Civic Center. This helps better heat the auditorium.
  • Improvements have been made at City Center and Buker. 
  • Buker was costing over $100K a year just to heat the building. Now it is about $30K. 
  • Public Works buildings have new heaters.
  • There is a solar wall at Hartford Fire Station.
  • All lights in the buildings and on city properties have been upgraded – LED.
  • Hatch Hill methane project will help provide energy for other city-owned buildings.
  • LED street lighting is almost complete.
  • We have about 90 remaining CMP accounts and it is possible that these could all be paid for by solar if a potential solar project moves forward.
  • All these upgrades were paid for by energy savings.
  • The city should begin looking at electric car fueling stations.
  • A few locations have some – Marketplace, Whitten Road Hannaford, and others.
  • These stations are an attraction for people travelling. 
  • Downtown could be a good location for one.

Overview of the 2007 comprehensive plan as it relates to parks and recreation in Augusta by Leif Dahlin, Director of Community Services, and Bruce Chase, Parks and Recreation Director:

  • Increasing responsibilities to this department is a concern to the city. It is a council goal to evaluate. 
  • Infrastructure added to the community since 2001:
    • Alumni athletic complex 2012
    • Augusta Nature Center 2006
    • Bicentennial Nature Park 2001
    • Bond Brook Recreation Area 2007
    • Buker Community Center 2006
    • Howard Hill 2018
    • Kennebec River Rail Trail 2002
    • Lithgow Library expansion 2016
    • Market Square Park 2014
    • Mill Park 2002
    • Museum in the Streets 2004
    • Great Sidney Bog 2008
    • CIty playgrounds (new equipment)
  • Added programs:
    • Farmers Market at Mill Park
    • Dog Park and committee
    • Petanque Courts and organization
    • Day of Caring with United Way
    • Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce – Kennebec Leadership Institute
    • Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce – Whatever Week
    • AARP age-friendly 
    • New Mainers
    • Veterans
    • Augusta Downtown Alliance
    • Augusta Trails
    • Kennebec River Rail Trail
    • Capital Area Recreation Association
    • Boys and Girls Club
    • Art/sculpture displays
    • Public works winter snow operations
    • CTV-7 
    • Code enforcement – park staff secures closed structures
  • Additional considerations:
    • Climate change 
    • Invasive plants – knot weed, bitter sweet, norway maple, burning bush on westside rotary
    • Insects – grubs, ticks, brown tail moth, bed bugs
    • Post 9/11 mindset
    • Festivals and beer tents
    • CTV-7 and spectrum challenges
    • Childcare growth – was $200K annually; now it is $700K.
    • State’s bicentennial – 2020
  • What they no longer do:
    • Community garden – Viles Arboretum took this on
    • Ice skating rink – 2016 was last year
    • Tree Board is inactive
    • Strategic Communications Committee is inactive
  • Looking ahead to the future:
    • Maintain existing resources
    • Capacity to deliver
    • Addressing trees to avoid mess like the 1998 ice storm
    • Beautification
    • Climatic changes
    • Invasives 
    • Assets – inventory and evaluate – example is Pleasant Hill – 200 acres – what should we do with it?
    • Senior citizens
    • New Mainers
    • Veterans
    • Cemetery capacity
    • Special events
    • Howard Hill Historical Park
    • Boards and committees – need volunteers to serve.

Public opportunity to identify concerns/suggestions that they want addressed within the comprehensive plan:

Kalie Hess, Hicks Road: increase native plants in the community; curbside composting; reduce the usage of plastics; Natural Resources Council of Maine has resources to encourage personal and corporate responsibility; more lighting on the rail trail.

Deborah Backman, teacher and resident: group of students looking for guidance on what they can do to improve recycling and green initiatives; maybe offering reusable water bottles to all the students to reduce plastic water; single sort at Cony; compost at schools; encourage students to use the bus and not all drive individually.

Malory Turgeon, student at Cony: implement more recycling at schools; only recycle paper now; utilize the greenhouse at CATC.

Roberta Record, resident: serves on Conservation Committee; keep Augusta beautiful.

Kevin Judkins, ward 2 city council: as technology evolves, maybe we can look at using solar on all city-owned rooftops as a means to produce energy for the community.

Committee discussion on “green” initiatives, recycling, parks and recreation, and other related items:

Brad: some of this ties into our consideration of increasing and promoting volunteerism in the community.

Other committee matters:

Members of the committee should begin to prepare for the committee-level discussions on what we can put in the new comp plan.

Next meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 19, 2019 at 6pm in the Old Fort Western Lecture Gallery. The focus of the public hearing is on economic development.

Adjourned.

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