Two petitions are currently in circulation in Wiscasset. If successful, voters will decide whether to form an education committee to explore alternatives for educating Wiscasset’s high school students. Voters will also revisit the Maine Department of Transportation’s downtown traffic project and decide, in a binding referendum vote, whether to accept or reject it based on changes to the project since a previous vote.
The education petition argues that paying tuition to surrounding school systems for students in grades nine through 12 could provide educational, social, and athletic opportunities not currently available at the Wiscasset School Department.
Students in those grades currently attend Wiscasset Middle High School. The petition seeks to ask voters whether an education committee should form to explore alternative education options.
The Wiscasset Board of Selectmen would appoint the committee, which would “coordinate, or not, with the existing school committee” to study available options, according to the petition. The committee would conduct an in-depth study on the effects of each option on students, the town, and the education budget.
The committee would report these findings and recommendations to the school committee and the board of selectmen, which would “present these options to the residents of Wiscasset to vote on,” the petition says.
The Wiscasset Taxpayers Alliance is not connected to the petition regarding an education committee, spokesperson Bill Sutter said.
The alliance is, however, circulating a petition that is asking for a binding referendum vote “to see if voters will disapprove and reject by binding referendum the changes made by (the DOT) to the Route 1 Main Street option 2 project approved by voters in the June 2016 advisory referendum,” Sutter said.
The changes cited in the petition include proceeding without federal funding, which eliminated the need to comply with federal historic preservation standards; imposing future maintenance costs on the town; and changes to plans for the Creamery Pier parking lot and Haggett Garage, Sutter said.
Since the vote on the DOT project in June 2016, plans for parking spaces on Creamery Pier have been eliminated from the project because it would require fill in an intertidal zone, Sutter said. The DOT also has yet to enter a purchase-and-sale agreement for the Haggett Garage building. Coastal Enterprises Inc. owns the building.
Replacing Haggett Garage with a parking area was a central feature of Option 2. DOT officials have said a new parking lot would be needed in order to eliminate on-street parking between Middle Street and Water Street.