December 31, 2013

Augusta City Council, school board to be sworn in Thursday

Council to consider proposal to nullify agreement between Capital Riverfront Improvement District and city regarding development, management of city-owned Mill Park.

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — City councilors and school board members will take their oaths of office Thursday.

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Dale McCormick

Staff file photo

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Cecil Munson

Contributed photo

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Elected in November and taking oaths are Dale McCormick and Cecil Munson, both at-large councilors; Patrick Paradis, Ward 3 councilor; Kimberly Martin, at-large board of education; Jennifer Day, Ward 1 board of education; Katie Vose, Ward 4 board of education.

Inauguration ceremonies start at 7 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Following the inauguration, councilors will consider killing, or at least suspending, a partnership between the city and state that the state hasn’t funded for years and the city recently stopped funding, too. The council will consider a proposal to nullify an agreement, authorized in 2003, between the Capital Riverfront Improvement District and the city regarding the development and management of city-owned Mill Park.

The district was established in 1999 by state law as part of the agreement for the removal of the former Edwards Dam, which crossed the Kennebec River at what was once the site of Edwards Mill and is now the site of Mill Park. The district was meant to help develop the riverfront area, and is overseen by a 16-member board of directors.

The city and state each provided about $30,000 a year to the district, until the state ceased funding its share after fiscal year 2011, former Gov. John Baldacci’s last budget.

Paradis, council representative to the district, said the board met recently and “it was decided by membership we go into a dormant phase, because of the fact there has been no state appropriation made, to match the city appropriation.”

As part of that move, the city has to cancel an agreement authorizing the district’s board to act on the council’s behalf to oversee Mill Park, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.

Paradis said the district has been a valuable tool used to help bring economic development to both sides of the river in the designated district, which includes Mill Park, the downtown area, the city-owned former Statler mill site and the privately held Kennebec Arsenal. He said the city still supports the concept of the district, but with no state appropriation to work with, there’s no reason for the district board to continue meeting. A new advisory committee, overseeing Mill Park, has already been meeting.

The city, starting this year, has redirected $20,000 of the money it previously paid to support the Capital Riverfront Improvement District to instead make up the city’s share of the cost, split with downtown merchants and the Augusta Downtown Alliance, of hiring a downtown manager.

Councilors Thursday are also scheduled to hear a presentation from Shawn Moody, owner of Moody’s Auto Collision Center, which has a shop on Powhattan Street in Augusta and consider a zone change on part of Riverside Drive.

Keith Edwards - 621-5647kedwards@centralmaine.com

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Patrick Paradis

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