Town committee handbook revised

BAR HARBOR — Revisions to the town’s handbook on boards and committees were approved by town councilors last week in a unanimous vote.

The handbook was revised by a subcommittee appointed last May, made up of Councilors Erin Cough and Matt Hochman and Town Manager Cornell Knight.

The recently approved final draft included numerous recommendations, which will require ordinance changes to take effect.

The subcommittee recommended making the Communication and Technologies Task Force into a standing committee of 5 members who serve 3-year terms.

Additionally, they recommended dissolving the temporary Task Force on Recycling, and the standing Parking and Traffic Committee. Cough explained to town councilors at a July 16 meeting that the Parking and Traffic Committee, composed currently of four staff members and two residents, is concerned mainly with curb cuts, which is work that can be done by town staff.

They also recommended continuing the temporary Parking Solutions Task Force until June 2020.

Earlier drafts of the handbook proposed scaling back the Cruise Ship Committee from 17 to nine members, but due to feedback from Councilor Steve Coston and committee chair Eben Salvatore at the July 16 council meeting, the Cruise Ship Committee remained unchanged.

“You couldn’t ask for a better group of people to manage these things,” Salvatore said of the Cruise Ship Committee, which currently has three vacancies. “The more people you have in the room … the better.”

Another recommendation was to merge the Conservation Commission with the Marine Resources Committee, “both with the mission of conservation of natural resources.” Though the two committees remain separate in the manual, this recommendation precedes the description of both.

Councilor Cough said at the July 16 meeting that a new, merged committee would be “one large conservation group that also does shellfish licensing.”

The Marine Resources Committee’s mission “is to administer the shellfish conservation program,” according to the revised manual, and the Conservation Commission’s mission is to “enhance the conservation of natural or scenic resources” and protect water supplies, working with the Planning Board.

Both committees have seven members, though the Conservation Commission currently has two vacancies, and the Marine Resources Committee has one vacancy.

Megan McOsker, at the time the chair of the Marine Resources Committee, wrote in a Feb. 11 email to Town Manager Cornell Knight that she disagreed with the proposed merging the committees.

“If we merged with the conservation commission, the mission of the joined committee would simply be far too large,” she wrote.

“The Marine Resources Committee works closely with the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to manage the harvest of shellfish, primarily softshell clams (Mya arenaria) in the intertidal area … This is … the second most lucrative fishery in Maine,” McOsker wrote.

She cited the Municipal Shellfish Management Manual which requires municipalities to “meet certain statutory and regulatory requirements” in managing shellfish, according to a law enacted in 1963.

The Marine Resources Committee meets “almost every month, usually with the DMR area biologist, [has] a steady group of people willing to serve and we never run out of things to do,” she wrote.

The council approved the revised handbook with the effective date of Nov. 1, and begin the process to amend the town code to reflect the changes detailed in the handbook.

That will involve proposing ordinance changes that will require public hearings. Cough thanked former councilors Ruth Eveland and Paul Paradis for putting together the original manual.

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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