Councilors don’t jump at joining HCPC

ELLSWORTH — Council members took up a heavy agenda at their Oct. 19 meeting and considered whether to contract with the newly revived Hancock County Planning Commission.

Jarod Farn-Guillette, executive director of the commission, outlined the services the organization could provide to the city, as he requested $2,300 in dues. But, with the commission closed for 18 months before its September reopening, Councilor John Phillips called it “an unknown quantity. I want to see some track record before I bet on the horse.”

The city can still receive services without paying dues, just at a higher rate, Farn-Guillette said. City Planner Theresa Oleksiw, who has since resigned, said her office has used HCPC services in the past and is in favor of being a member.

“They’re an excellent organization,” she said.

Councilors also heard Jackson Lab’s annual report to the city, from Chief Operations Officer Catherine Longley and Manager of Government Relations Leah Graham. Phase 2 of construction of the Charles E. Hewett Center is slated to wind down this month, after work was suspended in March because of the pandemic.

Seventy-three employees were hired at the Charles E. Hewett Center in Ellsworth last year and “we’re still hiring,” Longley said. In all, 326 Ellsworth residents are employed by Jackson Lab, which contributed $390,000 to the city in 2019 through water and sewer fees, taxes, permit fees and a $50,000 voluntary contribution.

Heart of Ellsworth board member Jon Stein shared the results of a recent community survey that “closely reflected results” from a 2015 survey undertaken by the city. There were 123 responses to the survey asking about intentional growth, infrastructure and public service. Top priorities for respondents were a more walkable downtown, broadband for all and implementing a “Green Plan.”

“Getting information from the community is always valuable,” Council Chairman Hamilton noted.

Discussions also covered a proposed connector trail between the Rail Trail, the paved pedestrian path along the railroad tracks, and the Sunrise Trail. That, along with the Historic Preservation Commission’s Museum in the Street, will be revisited at a later meeting.

Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]

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