LEWISTON — Councilors agreed Tuesday to host a retreat and planning session Sunday, Feb. 21.

City Administrator Ed Barrett said he hopes the meeting will help the new councilors and himself get familiar with each other and map out some specific goals for the next two years.

“It gives everyone a chance to talk early in their terms and get a little more familiar without the press of having an agenda item to vote on,” Barrett said.

Barrett said he’s also concerned about keeping costs low. The retreat will be low key and local, meaning that nobody will have to travel far to attend or pay for a meeting space. Barrett said the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce has offered the use of its meeting room for the council’s retreat. The only items that would need to be paid for would be for lunch and for a facilitator to lead the meeting.

Having an outside facilitator is key, he said. He presented councilors with a list of seven potential meeting guides.

“It think it’s very important to have a person that has no agenda other than to help the group,” he said. “There are always issues people have about the person leading the meeting: did they have an impact on the ultimate decision? That’s why it’s hard for a staff member to act as the facilitator.”

Barrett told councilors he expects the meeting to run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“You notice that after about 3 o’clock, people start get a little tired,” Barrett said.

Councilors on Tuesday said they were eager for the meeting, but had trouble finding space on their calendar. At first Barrett said he hoped to schedule the meeting on a Saturday in February, but councilors couldn’t find a day they didn’t have something else scheduled.

“I’m against moving it into March,” Councilor Stephen Morgan said. “In my mind, the sooner we do it, the better. I’d like to get some familiarity with our issues right  now.”

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