Frenette

Frenette

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Two incumbents and a former town councilor are vying on Nov. 5 for two, two-year terms on the Old Orchard Beach Town Council.

Seeking re-election are Joseph Thornton, 35, who currently serves as chairman of the five-member Town Council. He is a public safety dispatcher for the town of Scarborough. He was first elected in 2013 to fill an unexpired, partial term and was re-elected in 2015 and 2017.

Also seeking re-election is Jay Kelley, 67, a retired Portland firefighter, who is serving in his seventh year as an Old Orchard Beach councilor.

Former Councilor Roxanne Frenette, 58, served from 2002 to 2008 and later filled a partial, vacant term. She is retired after 30 years as an executive assistant at the Maine Turnpike Authority.

Frenette is a third generation Old Orchard Beach resident. She said she wants to represent families and work to ensure Old Orchard Beach remains affordable for anyone who wants to raise a family in the seaside town.

Thornton

Thornton

Frenette believes Old Orchard Beach’s newest homes are not in the price range many can afford – and pointed out several new homes just down the street from where she lives, priced in the $300,000 to $500,000 range, have been vacant since the spring.

“Existing homes may still be affordable but new housing is not affordable for average families, especially young families starting out,” said Frenette, who would like to encourage development of more affordable housing.

Frenette, a Ross Road resident whose property has a well and septic system, expressed frustration that a portion of her property tax, 10.59 percent, goes to the wastewater treatment plant and sewer infrastructure. She said neither she or 500 other Old Orchard Beach residents have any hope of receiving public water or sewer.

Thornton moved to Old Orchard Beach from Scarborough.

“My first job was a summer reserve officer for Old Orchard Beach Police Department and I decided to make it my home, said Thornton.

Kelley

Kelley

Early in his service as a councilor, he said, he started preparing for a new wastewater treatment facility.

“There were significant issues in the community around that, including odor issues impacting the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Thornton.

He said the town was able to get public funds for an odor control system. Thornton said now, the odor is “really all but eliminated” and that he gets positive feedback from citizens. Thornton said the wastewater treatment system needs major upgrades and the council will probably soon work on a bond package for the facility. Thornton said that will have a “significant” impact on taxes, but it needs to be done.

Acknowledging past issues, he said Old Orchard Beach has the right people in place in its public safety departments.

As to affordable housing, Thornton said Old Orchard Beach has created an additional tax incentive aimed at the elderly and said the Planning Board has done a good job ensuring a diversity of housing. Old Orchard Beach has “quite a bit” of what he described as of middle income affordable housing in various areas of town.

Kelley said he wants to continue on the path the Town Council is currently taking, and said the Town Council works well together.

“We took care of the smell issue (from the wastewater treatment plant) in Ocean Park,” he pointed out. “They deserved to have that fixed.”

Kelley said the council makes sure each department has the tools to to the job the town asks of them, from new equipment at the fire department to a rotation for new police cruisers, ambulances and public works equipment.

“We’re very aware of the tax dollar and try to keep it as low as we can,” said Kelley, adding he believes the rate in Old Orchard Beach is one of the lowest, if not the lowest in the area.

The wastewater treatment plant needs upgrades, Kelley said, which will be an expensive proposition. He said he hopes the town can get grants as well as bond for the upgrades, which the state’s environmental agencies say must be done. He said he hopes to phase-in the work.

Kelley, who has lived in town since his family moved there when he was in grade school, began his public safety career as a reserve police officer in Old Orchard Beach and then went to work for Portland Police Department. Seven years later, he transferred to the Portland Fire Department, where he worked until his retirement.

Voting on Nov. 5 is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Old Orchard Beach High School, at Emerson Cummings Boulevard.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or twells @mainelymediallc.com.

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