News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, September 19, 2013
Brooklin Selectmen review second solar plan for town, school

by Rich Hewitt

The Board of Selectmen has begun a review of a second proposal to install solar panels on the school and the fire station.

The proposal from Sundog Solar arrived on Tuesday, so the members of the board did not have time to study it in detail.

According to Selectman Mike Roy, the Sundog plan would install 375 solar panels on the school and the fire station at a total cost of $200,000. That array would cut the town and school power bill by an estimated 70 percent saving a total of about $11,587 on the combined town-school power bill each year, Roy said.

The newest proposal is about $70,000 less than the original proposal the board received from ReVision Energy earlier this year.

The school and the fire station are the two biggest public power users and the selectmen have discussed the idea with School Board Chairman Mike Sealander. More discussion is needed before the two boards can decide whether to move forward with the project, the selectmen said Tuesday.

“We’ll take this under advisement and try to make a decision,” Roy said. “We’ll meet with the chairman of the school board and see how it works for the town.”

That meeting is scheduled for October 8.

One complicating factor is that the roof on the school building needs to be re-shingled. If the solar project moves ahead next year, it would require that the shingling job be pushed up a year, before the solar panels are installed.

Board chairman Albie Smith said the selectmen also will have to decide how to fund the project—either through a possible lease arrangement or through a bond issue—before they can send it to voters.

Roy said the board would have to make a decision by December if it plans to include the project in the warrant for the next annual town meeting. So, they set December 17 as a deadline to make the decision.

Deborah Brewster suggested that that deadline be a little flexible considering the decision the school board will need to make on the roof.

“It might take them longer than it takes us because they’ll have to do the entire roof,” she said.

Meanwhile, the board will consider expanding parking for vehicles with boat trailers near the town dock at Naskeag Point.

Roy said members of the town Clam Committee indicated that the new parking system at the dock had worked well this summer, with the exception of a few minor issues involving out-of-town and out-of-state vehicles.

Brewster said, however, that there is a need for more space for the vehicles with boat trailers. Because of the lack of space, fishermen often unhitch their boat trailer and leave it in one of the marked parking spots. They then park their vehicle in a second spot.

“They’re allowed to do that,” she said. “But if we could provide more space for vehicles with trailers, then we could free up some of those parking spaces.”

Smith suggested that Brewster meet with the town’s road commissioner Neil Allen to look at the area along the east side of the road to determine the best way to create parking for vehicles and trailers in that area.

In a related matter, Smith noted that the board will continue to consider the idea of creating a harbormaster position. The board earlier indicated it would seek information from neighboring towns as to how they’ve handled that position and have received comments from several residents about the idea.

“We’re not rushing to create the harbormaster position,” Smith said. “We’re conducting fact finding to get people’s input.”

He suggested that they may need to create a harbor committee that could deal with the issues regarding the harbor, moorings and the harbormaster position. The other two board members agreed, but they took no formal action to create such a committee.

The board reappointed Horace Wardwell as the sealer of weights and measures for the town.

Warrants for September 10 were: receipts, $42,501, expenses, $9,231; and, for September 17, receipts, $182,622, and expenses, $184,023. The main items on that warrant were the school department, $71,667, which included a $24,400 heating oil bill and tuition to Deer Isle-Stonington High School of $4,884, the bill for the new tennis courts, $65,435, and the town’s payments to the transfer station through December, $42,014.