Originally published in The Weekly Packet, April 6, 2017
Brooklin votes for permanent public access to Center Harbor shore
Municipal, school budgets approved
School board member Emily Stribling addresses voters, flanked by, from left, board members Mike Sealander and Chairman Paige Morse, Superintendent Chis Elkington, and retiring principal Halina Nawrot.
by Anne Berleant
The sixty-odd citizens spread across the Brooklin School gymnasium for town meeting on Saturday, April 1, passed all articles presented in the warrant, showed their support for the town’s volunteer firefighters and EMTs, and, if they lingered past adjournment, heard that the Brooklin Store will open its doors in four to six weeks.
They also walked away with permanent public access to the waters off Center Harbor after unanimously approving an easement between the town and Steven White and Brooklin Boat Yard.
“This has been going on for a lot of years,” George Eaton, town meeting moderator, said. “This may not be the prefect solution but it is a solution.”
Voters also approved spending $110,000 to build a retaining wall from the water’s edge of Center Harbor Road extending to the launching ramp.
The easement will provide access for launching boats, with parking by the retaining wall reserved for non-boatyard employees.
Voters also unanimously passed a 180-day retail marijuana moratorium ordinance, renewable by selectmen for an additional 180 days, to buy time until state rules and regulations on legal retail marijuana are decided.
“This is a town that approved the state referendum,” Selectman Deborah Brewster said. “But we need time to figure it out.”
Citizens questioned an $8,500 request for Village Improvement, to be used to complete an ongoing study on bringing broadband to Brooklin. The concern was more that the fund’s name was misleading rather than spending it. An informational meeting after adjournment brought residents up to date on the study by Axiom Technologies. The report, which cost $21,000, is a “major document on how we set up Brooklin [broadband] and develop it in the future,” Selectman Bill Cohen said, adding that the town has received two proposals and “vendors who wouldn’t return our calls last year are calling us.” Last year, voters approved $15,000 for the fund.
In all, the 2017 municipal budget of $825,225, contained in 46 articles, easily passed, but it was the education articles that received pointed questions, on the increased costs and board action on declining enrollments.
Less available surplus, or carryforward, used as revenue for 2017-18 contributed to the $93,000 taxation increase, Superintendent Chris Elkington said. While carryforward stood at about $250,000 a few years ago, or about 25 percent of the annual budget, Elkington said the board had spent it down to about 10 percent of the budget, the recommended surplus amount. The total school budget of $1,870,941 is actually down about $17,400.
“The big issue is how we’re looking at our schools,” Elkington said, specifically in terms of combining services or districts with other schools, with the school board working with a consultant to examine available options.
Former school board member Mary Cummins asked how much money would be saved by combining schools.
“Brooklin is a traditional town,” she said. “We don’t like to lose things.”
54 ballots cast
Selectman, three-year term, uncontested: Deborah Brewster, 53
School board, three-year term, uncontested: Mike Sealander, 43
Town Clerk, three-year term, uncontested: Jeannine Hardy, 53
Road Commissioner, one-year term, uncontested: Neil Allen, 51