Winter isn't behind us yet, and it seems like the groundhog's predication of six more weeks of winter has certainly come to fruition! Our Public Works staff are hard at work with plowing, snow removal efforts and roadside cleanup after the recent storms. Despite this, sunny days and warmer weather are on our minds and we here in Wells are already looking ahead to the Summer months, with planning in place to set ourselves up for a successful season. Read on to learn how Wells is staying busy this month, and here's hoping that March really does come in like a lion and go out like a lamb!
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Winter weather doesn't dampen activity down at the Harbor
Michael Yorke, Harbormaster
So far, the snowless winter and the presence of seals has kept visitation to the Harbor high for this time of year. I see many questions on social media about when the best time is to view the seals. The simple answer is high tide on a sunny day; while this is not a guarantee, your odds are much better.

Invoices for the 2023 season have been mailed out and are reflective of the price increase recommended by the Harbormaster and voted on by the Wells Select Board. The fees in Wells Harbor had remained the same since 2015, although operating costs were skyrocketing. This user fee increase brings us inline with other Municipal Harbors in the State and is less burdensome to the tax payer. Mooring and Slip holders, please remember, 100% of fees collected go towards the dredge cost associated with keeping our Harbor navigable. 
Three new floats from Custom Floats of Portland arrived in mid-February as we continue our float replacement program on the Eastern shore Marina. This will allow us to refurbish the older floats and put them back in service in a different location. Special thanks to the Public Works Department for helping with the unloading of the floats.
Progress on Drakes Island Road Bridge Replacement On Track:
Public Meeting to be held in April
Over the winter, the town’s consultant on the Drakes Island Road Bridge replacement has been collecting data and working on designs for the new bridge. A public meeting to present designs and hear residents’ thoughts and opinions is planned for April.
Below, are details from CMA Engineers’ report:
  • The Hydraulics and Hydrology Analysis has been completed. This is an analysis of the movement of water, including volume and rate of flow, as it moves through the channel and the existing and potential bridge configurations.
  • The Environmental Resource coordination, which organizes documents for submittal to the appropriate agencies for environmental permits, is also complete. Agencies involved in this project are the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
  • The Geotechnical Evaluation has been completed. The report looks at subsurface conditions and materials, determines the physical and chemical properties of these materials, evaluates slopes and soil deposits' stability, and assesses any risks posed by site conditions and design foundations.
  •  CMA Engineers is more than halfway through the Alternatives Analysis. Here, the consultants develop a set of alternative solutions for replacing the bridge. CMA Engineers are developing two different alternatives, along with an analysis of the effects of doing nothing. This "No-Build" alternative is always created for an engineering project in order to have a benchmark against which to compare the build alternatives. 
Once the Alternatives Analysis is completed, the Town will schedule a public meeting to present the alternatives to the public for feedback. This meeting will take place in April, and the Town will publicize the date several weeks ahead of time. The meeting will begin at 6 pm and will be available to attend in person or via Zoom, as was the first public meeting.
Questions or comments on this project can be directed to 
Wells Transfer Station changes take effect this month
The Wells Transfer Station will see a Policy Change take effect starting this month. Beginning on March 1, 2023, all residents will be required to display a Wells Transfer Station sticker on their vehicle for any use of the Transfer Station.

Here are some frequently asked questions surrounding the changes:
Why is a Transfer Station Sticker now required?

In November 2021, the Waste Management Advisory Committee started meeting. They were charged by the Board of Selectmen to improve the economics and organization of the Transfer Station. In addition, they were to investigate the cost and feasibility of implementing curbside pickup in Wells. It was found that the average loss per year for the Transfer Station was about $185,000. This was due to a number of factors, but notably, from residents of other towns using the Wells facility, especially for recycling.

Why are the bag prices increasing?

In addition to the explanation regarding losses above, Wells has not seen a price increase for trash bags in 6 years. The change is necessitated due to the rising costs of goods and services, which impacts the overall costs to run the Transfer Station. This increase is intended to offset the almost $200,000 annual loss, and is NOT intended to generate additional revenue for the Town.

Where on my vehicle can I affix my sticker?

Taxpayer Transfer Station Stickers must be attached to the inside lower left-hand corner of the windshield in a location where the Sticker is visible to the staff at the facility. Beach Sticker locations will be modified due to this Transfer Station Sticker placement.

What is the cost for the stickers and bags?

Transfer Station Stickers will cost $5.00 per sticker. A replacement sticker for any reason is $5.00. If sticker is lost or damaged, after receipt or through the mail, a new sticker may be purchased for $5.00. The town is NOT responsible for any lost or damaged stickers.

The price of the 33 gallon orange Pay-as-You-Throw trash bags will now be $20 per roll, and the 15 gallon bags are priced at $10 per roll. The price of demo will also increase from $0.08 per pound to $0.12 per pound.  
What is the cost for residential yard waste?

The cost for brush/leaves/grass will be $0.12 per pound. No commercial haulers will be permitted.

When will these changes take effect?

All price changes will take effect on March 1st, 2023. There will be a grace period, until April 15th, to allow all residents ample time to purchase their Transfer Station stickers.

How can I purchase a Transfer Station Sticker?

Stickers can be purchased at Wells Town Hall, located at 208 Sanford Road, Wells, ME 04090, during regular business hours. Stickers can also be purchased via a Transfer Station Sticker by mail request form, found here.

Please be sure to have your vehicle registration on you to expedite the process if purchasing your sticker in person.

What if I hire a commercial contractor that needs to use the Transfer Station?

All temporary passes are issued to the property owner for the disposal of debris generated from a property within the Town of Wells. They may be obtained from the Town Hall by showing a signed copy of the contract for the construction work to be performed between the Commercial Contractor and the Town of Wells property owner. They will be valid for the timeframe specified in the contract.
To dispose of debris, the Commercial Contractor must make prior arrangements with the Transfer Station Manager to ensure that there is adequate space to accept the debris at the Transfer Station. The fee is $50.00 per contract.

Can I use my sticker on multiple vehicles?

No, taxpayer stickers are issued with the vehicle registration printed on them.
Library undergoes repairs after sudden pipe burst damage
Cindy Appleby, Library Director
What a crazy month February was.

A deep freeze the night of February 4th caused a sprinkler pipe joint to break, pouring water into the director's office and then seeping into a large part of the carpet in the rest of the library. Remediation began the next day with water removal and over 60 fans and dehumidifiers. Fortunately, the books and materials were undamaged!

But despite all the noisy fans and repair work going on, staff managed to continue to provide services to patrons. Staff set up work areas in the unaffected new addition. Curbside pickup was provided out of the community room door. Story times were moved to the Activity Center, and Fiber Arts was held at the Yarn Sellar in York one Friday and at the Kennebunk Free Library the next.

Thank you to the police and firefighters who arrived the night of the break, turned off the water, and helped squeegee some of the water out the doors. Thank you to Parks and Rec and other locations that allowed us to continue to offer our programs. Thank you to Ken Lowell, facilities manager, for coordinating remediation and repairs. Thank you to the library staff for their flexibility and for adapting on the fly to the new working conditions. And a big thank you to our patrons for their patience and understanding.

Repairs continue. Re-opening information will be posted on the Library website when known.
Marijuana Dispensary among ordinance changes under review
Mike Livingston, Town Planner & Engineer
The Planning Board has been working on two proposed ordinance changes to be placed before the voters for the June Town Meeting.

One change proposed is to reduce the Planning Board quorum requirement from the current number of 4 members to 3. A quorum is the minimum number of board or committee members that are required to be present to conduct a meeting. Typically, like the Board of Selectmen, a 5 member board requires a quorum of 3 which is consistent with Roberts Rules. For an unknown reason, the Town Ordinances sets the Planning Board quorum as 4. This has created issues on occasion with obtaining a quorum and holding a meeting. When a public hearing is scheduled and significant costs for notification have been expended, the lack of a having a quorum could be costly and cause unwarranted delays. The proposed ordinance changes the requirement from 4 to 3 members, Chapter 53.

The other ordinance changes are in regard to the definition of a Registered Medical Marijuana Dispensary and required performance standards. The State has recently deregulated Dispensaries which initiated the Board of Selectmen to propose ordinance changes that would limit the number of allowed Dispensaries to 3 within the Town and limit the locations to the General Business District. The Planning Board has made several recommendations to be included in the ordinance changes, Chapter 145, Sections 145-10, 145-24, 145-26 and 145-58.2.

Both ordinance changes have had workshops and Public Hearings through the Planning Board. The next steps in placing these items on the June ballot are for the Board of Selectmen to also conduct workshops and Public Hearings. The current proposed changes are available on the Town website.
New playground equipment beckons the arrival of Spring
Tina LeBlanc, Parks and Recreation Director
The Recreation Department recently held our annual 3rd & 4th Grade Girls Basketball Tournament. This tournament has been on hold for the past couple of years and we were told “thanks for running a great event-it was sorely missed the past few years!" Teams came from as far away as Farmington, NH and Westbrook, ME. Competition was tight but in the end, the Wells girls were victorious!  
This past week, our new playground equipment was delivered! With help from the Wells Police Department, Public Works Department, and the Harbor Master we were able to unload all the equipment. This was a big job, so we were grateful to have the additional support from other departments! 
At the Rec Park, we will be replacing the large playground structure with a new large structure. At the Wells Activity Center, we will be installing a playground so that the children in the Before & After School program will have a great place to play. The money to fund the playground equipment has come from fundraising, donations, and special programs. Below are sample concept drawings of our new playgrounds. 
Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts, Spring is right around the corner! Which means registration is now open for Lacrosse for grades K-6! Other spring programs such as Track & Field, Running Club and Archery will be opening for registration soon.   
Summer Camp planning is also well underway. We are now hiring for Summer Camp and Seasonal Maintenance Staff. Interested persons can apply on the Town Website. Camp registration will begin in April.  

It’s always “Four Seasons of Fun” at Wells Parks & Recreation! 
Budget review in process; Maine license plate change proposed
Jodie Sanborn, Finance Director
As February comes to a close, department staff is busy fulfilling Transfer Station Sticker requests, researching mortgage holders for properties in tax lien, collecting payments on 2021 tax liens that are about to foreclose, answering request for amounts excise taxes and property taxes paid in 2022, and continue to process hundreds of vehicle registration transactions. 

Since the first week in January, the Town Manager, Finance Director, Accountant and Department Heads have worked with the Budget Review Committee to review the Town Manager's budget. The Committee completed their review and has passed their recommendations over to the Select Board for review. The next step in the budget process will start with the Select Board meeting on Thursday, March 9th to work on their review.
Earlier this month, Motor Vehicle proposed changing the standard Maine license plate replacing the current chickadee plate. If approved, the plates featuring the 1901 Maine flag would begin to be changed March 2025, as Mainers register their vehicles.
The news release from the Secretary of State can be read here.
Fire Department sees record-breaking call numbers and braves multiple winter storms
Mark Dupuis, Fire Chief
Wells Fire Department has had quite the winter season.

With multiple fires, major storms, and a record-breaking incident total, we are looking forward to some warm weather. We have had a total of 552 calls since November, with 8 of those calls being fires of varying severity, and a total of 150 medical calls.
During the month of January alone, we had 276 incidents we attended. During the storm on January 23rd, we ran a total of 153 calls with 146 of those calls happening simultaneously. Luckily, we had most of the department, as well as some of our Call Force members, to help but it sure was an exhausting few days.
As we head into the spring months, we are starting to prepare for the summer season and the influx it has on our population. This includes the process of hiring qualified lifeguards to protect our beautiful beaches and the Wells community. Wells Ocean Rescue hires around 30 lifeguards each summer. These numbers have been difficult the last few seasons with the shortage of qualified individuals. We are revamping our recruiting process for this season and feel it will bring a higher number of applicants to possibly join our WOR squad!

If you or someone you know would like to apply for a lifeguard position, please visit the Town’s website or the Human Resources Department at Town Hall. 
Vehicle registration and inspection information broken down
Jo-Ann Putnam, Chief of Police
The State of Maine requires vehicles to register your vehicle(s) yearly. The month which your vehicle expires depends on when you first registered it. The expiration can be found towards the top your yellow registration certificate, or on the registration plate on your vehicle. 

Maine has a variety of registration plates to choose from. If you cannot make it to the Town Hall to register your vehicle, you can renew your registration online here. If you have any other questions surrounding registering your vehicle you can find more answers here.

Vehicles must be inspected yearly as well. This is to ensure the inspection standards of all vehicles which operate on Maine’s roadways. The inspection sticker is most commonly found on the lower left hand corner of the windshield, or in the center of the windshield in back of the rearview mirror (Inspection Sticker Placement). The inspection does not always expire when your registration does. The inspection is marked out the month your mechanic inspects the vehicle. Current inspection stickers should look either orange or green in color. 

Anything which is not orange or green (from March 2023 to December 2023), is expired and you should schedule an appointment with your mechanic immediately.  
Community Solar 101 discussion now available
On February 16th at 2 PM, EnergySage representatives, along with Wells Public Library held an info-session regarding the options for community solar in our community. EnergySage is the go-to marketplace for making confident energy decisions and gaining control over the buying process.
A video recording of this discussion is available for viewing and can be found here.
If you have submission requests for The Wells Connector, please email us.
208 Sanford Road
Wells, ME 04090