BELFAST — The City Council approved a small committee to study issues and provide suggestions to the council regarding accessibility for mobility-challenged people in the city at its Dec. 6 meeting.

Residents Aynne Ames and Neva Allen, who originally made a presentation to the council at its Nov. 1 meeting regarding such issues, were again present Dec. 6 to discuss forming a committee.

Ames suggested a small three-person committee to consist of herself, Allen and possibly Public Works Director Bob Richards. Ames suggested that the group come up with a plan to deal with a variety of issues including accessibility, curbs, sidewalks and parking places and then present that plan to the City Council at a later date.

During discussion of the proposal, Councilor Mike Hurley said the city had previously received recommendations regarding what should be done concerning handicapped access in Belfast and he wanted to know what had and had not been done from the list of items that were already recommended. He also voiced his support for forming such a committee.

Councilor Neal Harkness said he felt the city has underperformed in the area of handicapped accessibility because the city has taken a piecemeal approach to the problem as opposed to a more comprehensive view.

The council then discussed a proposal from City Manager Erin Herbig that Ames and Allen work with the city’s Pedestrian Hiking and Biking Committee regarding their concerns, as that committee was already working on a comprehensive plan.

Ames voiced concerns about that approach, as she felt the needs her committee would be addressing were very different than the interests of the Hiking and Biking Committee. Ultimately the council agreed and decided to allow Ames and Allen to come up with a proposal. Herbig asked that any such proposal be provided prior to Feb. 1 so the city could consider the proposal as part of its budget process.

In other matters, councilors:

  • Approved a request from the Fire Department to confirm Brandon Waterman as a part-time ambulance driver for the Belfast Ambulance Department.
  • Approved a request from the Belfast Police Department to purchase a new cruiser for $43,123.59.
  • Approved four requests from the harbormaster. Councilors authorized matching funds for the Harbor Management Access Grant. They approved applying for a Maine Department of Environmental Protection pump-out grant with up to $2,500 from the city in matching funds; 2023 Harbor usage fees; and charter vessel and commercial contracts for 2023.
  • Approved a request from Communications Assistant Mackenzie Barnhart authorizing the redesign of the city’s website and appointing Councilors Brenda Bonneville and Hurley to a temporary website redesign working group.
  • Approved two requests from Airport Manager Kenneth Ortmann, one for the transfer of funds in the amount of $500 from the Airport Maintenance Account to the Parks and Recreation Equipment Capital Reserve account to pay for the transfer of a John Deer zero-turn mower, and the other to adopt proposed Belfast Municipal Airport minimum standards.
  • Heard a presentation from Wayne Marshall regarding proposed amendments to the city code of ordinances to be considered by the Belfast Planning Board at its Dec. 14 public hearing.