Sanford plans to celebrate designation as America’s newest ‘city’

Posted July 17, 2013, at 1:58 p.m.

SANFORD, Maine — Sanford became America’s newest city Jan. 1, and on Thursday, residents will mark the new designation with a special luncheon, an evening barbecue, a ceremony and that most American of events, a baseball game. All events take place within a block of City Hall.

The 4 p.m. ceremony will include the unveiling of a new City Hall sign and the handing over of the old town hall sign to the Sanford Springvale Historical Society. That event, along with speeches noting the community’s new status, will take place outside City Hall, just across the street from Central Park, where Goodall Hospital — marking a milestone of its own, its 85th birthday — will host a complimentary barbecue.

Following all that, folks can take in a ballgame at Goodall Park — Sanford Mainers versus Laconia Muskrats — on Roberts Street.

Rotarians and guests will mark the new city status at their 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting. And for those interested in the redevelopment of old mills, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which distributes brownfields grants for environmental assessment and cleanup, hosts forums starting at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall chambers. Sanford has been awarded several such grants. Folks can hear from Josh Benthien of Northland Enterprises LLC, which is redeveloping the old Sanford Mill on Washington Street; Doug Sanford, who is redeveloping North Dam Mill in Biddeford; and James Nimon of the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council. A second forum addresses how to finance mill redevelopment and includes panelists Paul Schumacher of Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission, Nick Hodgkins of Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Frank Gardner of the EPA and Joanna Tourangeau of the legal firm Drummond Woodsum.

Here’s more:

• Folks who wish to attend a lunch and panel presentation noon-2 p.m. Thursday, at the Town Club, should visit www.sanfordstrong.org or call 956-3321. The panel discussion is entitled “Making Sanford strong through human capital — why people are the business of Sanford.” The event is hosted by the Sanford Strong Coalition.

• Goodall Hospital hosts a community barbecue 4-6 p.m. in Central Park.

• The Sanford Mainers play the Laconia Muskrats at 6:30 p.m. at Goodall Park, Roberts Street.

Sanford became the 23rd city in Maine on Jan. 1 and is the first community in the state to make the change since Caribou became a city in 1967.

Once called Phillipstown, prior to its incorporation as a town, the community had petitioned the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Province in 1752 for township designation, but was rebuffed, according to the “Bicentennial History of Sanford” by Capt. Albert Prosser. The government of the day finally approved Sanford’s designation as a township 16 years later, in 1768.

This time, it wasn’t up to a provincial or state government to approve the new designation; Sanford’s registered voters approved the new charter, which made the town a city and incorporated a host of changes to how the government operates. The change was approved 4,517 to 3,630 in the Nov. 6 election.

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