The recent meeting of the Selectmen in Rangeley covered a range of important topics for the community. One major point of discussion was the Oquossoc Village Study conducted by Two Island.  Matt Drost from the Maine Department of Transportation presented the final draft of the report, which took a lot into account from the meeting held in June with local residents. He clarified that there are no specific requirements from Complete Streets, Smart Growth, or Maine DOT for ongoing components in the ordinance language. However, he mentioned that the municipality may be responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks built on state roads. Funding for the project will include a local component, with the aim of leveraging federal funds through a village partnership with the Maine DOT. The board decided to table approval until the next meeting to allow the public time to review and offer feedback on the draft report.
Another significant topic discussed was the Scenic Byways project. Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, in collaboration with Maine DOT, proposed the establishment of a Scenic Byways stop and information center at the Depot Street parking area and the Oquossoc village parking area on the corner of Route 16. RLHT successfully applied for a Federal Highway Scenic Byways grant. However, there are some administrative issues related to the grant that need to be addressed. The board approved the town as the administrator of the project and authorized up to $65,000 from the Economic Development Downtown Revitalization fund for the town’s match.

The meeting also addressed the issue of police department coverage. Chief French reported that due to staffing shortages, every other weekend is currently not covered by Rangeley police officers. Recruitment and retention have been challenging since May 28th, 2021, when they were reduced to a two-officer team.   Rangeley PD faces additional obstacles in recruitment, such as a shortage of affordable housing and the remoteness of the area. Chief French also highlighted the starting wage disparity of $23.30/hr. versus $25 to $30.92 per hour starting pay for a certified police officer compared to neighboring law enforcement agencies and emphasized the need for a higher wage to attract and retain officers. Not only in the new hire but to support ongoing longevity. Currently, Rangeley PD is competing with salary offers from other Maine Police Departments of $35 to $41 for police officers.  He proposed increasing the wages, staffing (replacing the current vacancy and adding an additional officer) and implementing a “firefighter schedule” to ensure coverage and improve recruitment.
In other business, the board approved various items such as meeting minutes, liquor licenses, and the acceptance of the Scenic Byways grant. Goal setting was discussed, with board members suggesting priorities such as affordable workforce housing, updating sign ordinances, improving parks, and filling vacancies in the town.
The meeting also included updates on the Comprehensive Plan Review Committee and a request for an easement on Hotel Road.
Overall, the Selectmen meeting addressed key issues affecting the Rangeley community, from infrastructure development to public safety and future planning. The board will continue to work towards the betterment of the town and its residents.

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