BIDDEFORD — The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a work plan that outlines goals the city aims to accomplish over the next year, such as finding ways to combat heroin abuse and address the need for more downtown parking.

The plan lists 55 goals organized by priority from low to critical. The priority rankings are a reflection of what was discussed at a council workshop on Dec. 16, City Manager Jim Bennett told councilors.

The plan also includes what Bennett described as “aggressive” deadlines for accomplishing each goal, but he was quick to clarify that the city does not expect to complete every goal on time.

“If we end up hitting 80 percent on time, that’s one heck of a year,” said Bennett. “Anyone who comes in and says, ‘You only did 83 per- cent of what you said,’ that’s more than an A (grade) in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

While Councilor Marc Lessard said he is optimistic about the plan, he doubts that the completion rate will be as high as 80 percent.

“I think if we complete 80 percent of it, it’s going to be a grand slam,” he said. “If we complete 50 percent of it, I’d be surprised, and that’s no reflection of staff or people who will be working on it. I’m just using 20 years of (experience).”

Before the vote, some councilors also suggested certain goals were not given high enough priority.

Just because a goal is designated as low or medium priority does not mean the city does not feel it is important, said Bennett. “We’re still going to handle them,” he said.

Council President John McCurry said the completion rate “would be minimal” if all goals were designated as high priority.

According to a draft of the work plan, which is available on the city’s website, there are six goals designated as critically important.

Three of those specifically concern downtown Biddeford, including developing a strategic plan for parking, considering rezoning the area to establish a more well-defined downtown district, and determining the “ultimate redevelopment goal” of 3 Lincoln St. – the former site of the Maine Energy Recovery Co.’s trash burner – and executing that redevelopment.

Other critically important goals include establishing a strategic plan steering committee, reviewing city staff and organizational structure, and developing a plan to stabilize the tax rate over the next three to five years.

There are also five goals designated as high priority, such as developing plans to curb crime and mitigate heroin and other drug use in Biddeford, and finding a solution for restoring the rapidly deteriorating, 120- year-old City Hall clock tower.

Bennett said he expects to bring updated versions of the plan – with goals in progress italicized and completed goals crossed out – to the council nearly every month for the next year.

— Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


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