8.  PUBLIC FACILITIES AND SERVICES

 

There are a number of public facilities and services available to the residents of Westport.  Some of these are provided by the Town, but others are made available by volunteers, private groups and organizations, the Town of Wiscasset, and Lincoln County.

 

Town Government

 

Westport is governed by the Town Meeting/Selectmen form of government.  An Annual Town Meeting is held in March, at which time the Town’s voters elect municipal officers and appropriate funds for the coming year.  Elected officers and officials and their terms of office are shown below:

 

            Selectmen (3)                           3 years (staggered terms)

            Town Clerk                              1 year

            Treasurer                                  1 year

            Tax Collector                           1 year

            Road Commissioner                 3 years

            School Board Members            3 years (staggered terms)

 

Appointed positions include:

 

            Code Enforcement Officer

            Constable/Shellfish Warden/Animal Control Officer

            Director of Emergency Management

            Harbor Master and Port Warden

            Health Officer

            Plumbing Inspector

            Tree Warden

 

Appointed boards and committees include:

 

            Ad Hoc Standing Committee   

Board of Appeals

Cemetery Committee

Comprehensive Plan Committee

Conservation Commission

Harbor Committee

Planning Board

            Shellfish Committee

 

Westport’s form of government appears to work well for the community.  There does not appear to be a need to change the form of government even as Westport grows over the next ten years.

 

 

 

Municipal Buildings

 

Municipal buildings include the Town Hall, which was constructed in 1885, as well as the Town Office which was built in 1998.  Both the Town Hall and the Town Office are in good condition.  The Town Hall has been used for Town Meetings, and is rented by the Town for private gatherings such as receptions, dances and dinners.  The Town Office contains a number of offices and several small meeting rooms.  Parking lots serve both facilities and are large enough to accommodate most functions.

 

Fire Protection

 

Fire protection is provided by the Westport Volunteer Fire Department, a non-profit organization consisting of about 10 active members (down from as many as 25 a decade ago).  The Fire Station is located on Route 144 in the center of the island.  Vehicles include a 2002 four wheel drive Ford, a 1963 Ford pumper, a 1987 LaFrance pumper, and a 1978 tank truck that will need to be replaced within the next five years at a cost of about $50,000.  With the exception of the tank truck, all of the vehicles are in very good condition. Water is obtained from a small pond off Route 144. Dispatching service is provided by Lincoln County to Fire Department volunteers through pagers. Two of the volunteers are Emergency Medical Technicians.  The Fire Department has a mutual aid agreement with all of Lincoln County through the Lincoln County Fire Chiefs Association.

 

The Fire Department maintains its equipment in good condition and conducts a number of fund-raising efforts throughout the year to minimize the extent to which it must rely on taxes for support. 

 

According to the Fire Chief, the number of calls for service has increased as the Town has grown.  There were 59 calls in 2000 (including five structure fires), up from about 39 calls in 1999. Apart from the need to replace the tank truck, the Fire Department appears to have sufficient fire fighting equipment to meet the needs of the community for the next ten years or so.  However, there will be a need for an additional 5-8 volunteer firemen. 

 

Library

 

Westport has no public library, but regularly provides financial support to the Wiscasset Library.  All Westport residents can obtain membership at the Wiscasset Library without charge.  The Maine State Library also provides services, and the Internet is a wealth of information for anyone that has access to a computer.  There does not seem to be a need for a town-based library, either in the foreseeable future or within the next 10 years.

 

Public Health and Social Services

 

Westport does not have its own medical facilities, but residents have access to a number of nearby services.  Emergency medical services are provided by Wiscasset Ambulance.  Hospitals include Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta, MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta and Maine Medical Center in Portland.  There are several dozen nursing homes and assisted care facilities within 30 miles. 

 

Public health and social services are provided for Westport by state and regional agencies with offices in Lincoln County, as well as some locally-based agencies. In response to annual agency requests, the Town has provided financial support to the following agencies:

 

·        Kno-Wal-Lin: Home nursing care for Knox, Waldo and Lincoln counties.  Offices in Damariscotta.

 

·        Senior Spectrum (Wiscasset):  “Meals on Wheels” and other services for the elderly.

 

·        Coastal Economic Development (Brunswick): Regional anti-poverty agencies using state and federal funds.

 

·        Coastal Trans. (Damariscotta): Non-emergency (medical and non-medical) transportation for needy and elderly.

 

·        New Hope for Women (Damariscotta):  Spousal abuse assistance.

 

·        Jessie Albert Dental Clinic (Bath): Dental clinic which also serves the needy.

 

·        Lincoln County Animal Shelter (Edgecomb): Shelter for strays.

 

Police Protection

 

Westport does not have its own police force. Law enforcement is provided by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department out of Wiscasset and the Maine State Police.  The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department has 13 full-time patrolmen and three full-time detectives.

 

Public Road Maintenance

 

Westport does not have its own public works department.  The Town contracts for snow plowing of its roads and State Route 144.  The Town also contracts for road improvement work.  Westport is too small a town to have its own public works department, so contracting appears to be a cost effective alternative for providing road work and snow plowing services.  It is not likely that the Town’s population will grow enough to justify having a public works department.

 

Solid Waste

 

Westport pays an annual fee to the Town of Wiscasset ($54,688 in 2000) so that its residents can dispose of their solid waste at the Wiscasset Waste Transfer Station. The fee is population-based, and varies depending upon tipping fees charged to the Town of Wiscasset (currently about $53/ton). Residents are individually responsible for delivery of solid waste to the transfer station.

 

Lincoln County operates a recycling station not far from the Wiscasset Transfer Station. There is no requirement that Westport residents participate in recycling.  Incentives for recycling include personal commitment to the environment and the knowledge that recycling may reduce trash disposal costs charged by the Town of Wiscasset to the Town of Westport.

 

Based on data obtained from the State Planning Office, in the year 2000 there were 4,593.15 tons of waste generated in the Wiscasset region which includes Wiscasset, Westport and Alna.  Of this amount, 2,651 tons were incinerated, 1,825.15 tons were recycled, and 117 tons were landfilled.  The adjusted recycling rate was 44.7%.

 

Schools

 

Westport has not had its own school since a one-room schoolhouse closed in 1962.  For the past 40 years, students have been transported by Town buses to the Wiscasset school system where they attend as tuition students. Wiscasset’s schools include the primary school (grades K-5), the middle school (grades 6-8) and the high school (grades 9-12).  Wiscasset has applied to the Maine Department of Education for funds to renovate and possibly expand the middle school.

 

During the 2001-2002 year, there were 977 students enrolled in the Wiscasset system including 109 from Westport (11% of the total), 67 7th and 8th graders from Edgecomb, 110 students from Alna, and 42 students from a variety of other communities.  Altogether, non-resident enrollment accounts for 34% of the total Wiscasset school system enrollment.

 

Not all Westport students attend Wiscasset schools.  As of February 1, 2001, a total of eight students attended other schools including Brunswick (3), Center for Teaching and Learning (1), Kents Hill (1), Morse (1) and Sheepscot Valley (2).  Westport’s 2001 student population (117) is higher than it was in 1985 (85) and 1990 (106).

 

The Town of Westport is currently exploring several options for meeting its long-range school needs.  These include staying with the Wiscasset system or building a new school with other tuition towns.  Some of the issues facing Westport include:

 

·        A lack of representation on the Wiscasset School Board or other effective means of representation;

 

·        Wiscasset’s high tuition costs (Wiscasset charges the State allowable tuition rates plus administrative costs associated with transportation as well as special education); and

 

·        Potential for declining enrollments.  While the number of school-age children has increased over the past 20 years as Westport has grown, the number of children under five years of age is now less than it was in 1980, as shown in the table below.  Assuming that the number of pre-school children remains about the same over the next 10 years, school enrollment will continue to decline (the total number of children in the 5-17 category would decline to about 83 in 13 years).

 

 

Numbers of Children by Major Age Category

 

 

Under 5

5-17

Total

1980

34

79

113

1990

51

105

156

2000

32

135

167

 Source: U.S. Census, 1980, 1990, 2000

 

The following is a summary of Westport’s school enrollment by grade for the period 1991-2001.

 

 

Westport October Enrollments

Total Resident Enrollment

Grade

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

Elem.

Spec.

1

 

 

2

1

 

1

1

2

2

 

K

8

8

4

8

8

6

12

12

5

6

3

1

13

15

8

6

11

11

7

8

14

7

6

2

7

8

16

8

3

12

11

10

13

11

9

3

7

8

9

13

11

3

13

12

7

12

11

4

8

9

9

8

14

11

2

3

11

8

12

5

12

8

9

9

9

14

11

11

11

10

10

6

10

10

9

8

9

8

15

15

4

9

9

7

7

10

11

7

11

5

9

9

11

4

11

8

6

6

12

11

9

8

7

7

13

11

3

Total

Elem

79

82

87

80

86

78

88

88

91

80

76

9

4

7

6

6

11

5

6

7

6

13

13

10

7

5

7

5

7

9

6

4

9

7

11

11

6

6

5

6

5

8

10

10

5

7

9

12

5

5

7

3

7

4

8

9

6

7

7

Sec

Spec

2

3

2

3

4

2

2

1

2

3

2

Total

Sec

24

26

27

23

34

28

32

31

28

37

42

Total

103

108

114

103

120

106

120

119

119

117

118

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Maine Department of Education

 

Recreation

 

Westport does not have a full range of recreational facilities.  The customary recreational facilities normally associated with a school location, such as ball fields and playgrounds, do not exist because Westport relies upon Wiscasset for its school needs.  Wiscasset has tennis courts, outside basketball courts, a baseball field, a softball field, and a community playground which are open to the residents of the surrounding towns.  The Wiscasset Recreation Department sponsors trips and activities during the year which are available to Westport residents on a “space available” basis.

 

Other regional facilities include two YMCA’s and their associated programs in Bath and Boothbay.

 

Westport residents have access to the water at Ferry Boat Landing.  The Town owns eight acres of land with 1,200 feet of waterfront at the north end of the island at Clough Point.

 

Informal recreational opportunities abound including boating, swimming, fishing, clamming, hiking, hunting, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, skating and sledding.