WESTBROOK — The city should put a ban on feeding ducks to protect the health of both the waterfowl and the Presumpscot River, the city’s sustainability coordinator told the council Monday night.

The City Council voted to discuss a duck-feeding ban later this month. It also gave preliminary approval Monday to consolidate all ward polling locations at the Westbrook Community Center and laid the groundwork for a sculpture garden in front of the “Welcome to Westbrook” mural on Main Street.

Sustainability Coordinator Lynn Leavitt said when people feed bread to ducks, who should be eating bugs and seeds, it makes them sick and when they get sick, they leave an abundance of waste in the river. A piling up of this waste, she said, makes it hard for fish to live in the river and can cause a buildup of green algae.

“We are doing so much for the river, it does not make sense to undercut that,” Leavitt said.

A sick duck is not able to migrate, and if they are relying on humans for food, their migratory and movement patterns will be disrupted, she said.

“It makes ducks more open to humans, and they get killed in traffic or tangled in litter,” Leavitt said.

“This is important but education will be key,” At-Large City Council Ann Peoples said. “This will be going against generations of people who fed the ducks, it’s a cultural thing to overcome.”

Councilors voted unanimously to continue discussions on the ban at a meeting later this month.

The council also gave preliminary approval for the consolidation of all voting locations to the Community Center, following a successful test during the June election when four of the five wards voted there.

“People told me it was the easiest voting really has been for them, you no longer need to know your ward and it is more efficient,” At-Large Councilor Michael Foley said.

Concerns were raised over how voting at the Community Center would impact food pantry operations there.

“It is easy to say that we can close it for the day, but there are people who really rely on the food pantry,” Ward One Councilor Brendan Rielly said.

City Clerk Angela Holmes says she is working with the center on ways to keep the food pantry and other services at the Community Center available on election days.

A public hearing and final vote on the polls consolidation is scheduled for the next City Council meeting on July 15.

Also approved Monday was the donation of sculptures and labor to turn a downtown parcel into a sculpture garden.

The city-owned property in front of the “Welcome to Westbrook” will be lightly landscaped and about nine sculptures will be installed. The project is expected to take about three weeks.

“The plans look great, the (sculpture garden) will look sharp,” Council President Gary Rairdon said.


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