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Home > Meetings > 2008 Meetings > October 15, 2008

October 15, 2008 Meeting Minutes and Agenda


1. Approval of the September 17th meeting minutes – Chair

2. Strategic Plan Update – Bruce Oswald

3. Land Records Update – Rich Sutton

4. Membership – Mike Smith

5. GIS Day – All

6. Subcommittee Reports
• Financial – Larry Harwood
• Policy & Marketing – Marilyn Lutz
• Technical
Status of the GEOPortal – Mike Smith, Christopher Kroot


Michael Smith
Robert Marvinney
Marilyn Lutz
Gretchen Heldmann
Kenneth Murchison ( by phone)
Paul Hoffman
William Hanson, Chair
Jon Giles ( by phone)
Aimee Dubois
Christopher Kroot

Larry Harwood

Dan Walters, US Geological Survey (USGS) & Maine GIS Users Group ( MEGUG )
Vinton Valentine, University of Southern Maine (USM) & MEGUG
Bruce Oswald, James W. Sewall Co Project Team ( by phone)
Rich Sutton, Reference Standard, JWS Project team ( by phone)
James Page, CEO James W. Sewall Co. ( by phone)

The meeting was called to order at 10:03

1. Approval of the September 17th , 2008 meeting minutes
Larry Harwood read out an addition to the minutes in section 4 Bond Issues requested by Gretchen Heldmann as follows: "Gretchen Heldmann argued that the Board should put more money towards the High Resolution Topography Data so that we would have better chances at flying 0.5m LiDAR. 0.5m LiDAR would provide much more detailed information and would ultimately in the end create better flood maps, have better elevation data, better forest stand info, and more. Gretchen wanted to see $5.61M asked for this project. The Board discussed the issue and left the amount at the $1.5M. The Board voted to approve the matter, with all votes in favor except for Gretchen who voted Nay." The Chair entertained a motion to approve the minutes as amended to include Ms. Heldmann’s addition. Marilyn Lutz moved to approve the minutes as amended. Mike Smith seconded. The Board voted 7 in favor, none opposed, Chair abstaining. The motion carried. (The Chair traditionally abstains unless needed to break a tie.)

2. Strategic Plan Update
Bruce Oswald gave a brief update on the October 15th report sent to the CAT3 Grant Project Committee. Much had been accomplished in the last 30 days or so. He pointed out the updated schedule and suggested that he would be finished in January of 2009. The full text of the report is included as Attachment A.

3. Land Records Update
Rich Sutton gave an update on the Integrated Land Records System part of the project. He provided a one page document giving “…a snapshot of ongoing developments in the various areas of design, investigation and promotion..” of the project. The report is given here in outline form with his comments.

Research Findings

Classes of stakeholders:
• Land records producers and stewards (Tier 1)
• Active land records users (Tier 2)
• Technical facilitators and vendors (Tier 3)

Vital to concentrate on Tier 1 first; many identified applications and downstream users

Parcel inventory:
Maine has a unique situation with respect to assessment and tax mapping. It is “balkanized” into 400 or so individual assessment authorities. Between the very large and very small towns is a “middle class” of towns that are probably not going to automate on their own. Regionalization is probably the only way to automate their parcel maps. Some states have a state wide tax mapping and updating system. Currently in Maine :
• Approximately 40% of tax map parcel data is digital (to parcel standard or equivalent)
• 20% of total assessed parcels are within the top 2% (by population) of Maine municipalities
• 100+ towns will not be able to self-administer parcels, regionalization is a possible solution.

It is vital to include maintenance in any automation plan or the initial investment will quickly be lost. It is possible that the Maine Revenue Services (MRS), given funding, could expand their maintenance to include some of the organized towns ( the ‘middle class 100’ ).

County Registries:

For the registries the benefits of integrating their records with tax maps are less tangible, so the Registries have a different outlook. It is difficult to show them immediate benefits. This is unfortunate because the registries are a vast resource of geospatial data unavailable to the GIS community.
• Point referencing scanned documents (Parcel Identifier)
The easiest identifier would be a latitude/longitude coordinate for a parcel included in its deed description.
• Georeferencing survey plans
There is interest by the registries in having the survey plans scanned. This might be a good stand-alone side project.
• Regional service center viability
• Support from Deeds Registers
• Web vendors – supportive but revenue driven

Maine Revenue Services
• LURC Unorganized Territories model (expansion opportunities?)
This is an interesting idea but MRS has their own problems and limitations in maintaining the UT parcel data.

State comparisons
• US: Multiple initiatives, mostly county-administered states
• Canada (New Brunswick)
Toward Torrens title system (title by registration) – the possibility of converting Maine Registry of Deeds indexes from the current party- in- interest indexing to a parcel identifying index, needs to be explored. One such system in use in a few other jurisdictions is the Torrens registration system which combines the ease of searching titles by parcel identification indexing with a state guarantee or certification of title validity. New Brunswick has a variant of this type of system, whereby some parcel titles are officially certified. Such recording systems are many years out, if ever, for Maine but we may be able to move incrementally toward them.

Federal standards and opportunities
Federal standards are very simple at this point. For Maine to adapt to what standards exist would change nothing for us and would be a good thing to do.

Promotional Planning
Tier 1 participation
Legislative opportunities
Federal opportunities: DOI, Census
Bold stand = controversy energy

Conceptual Framework
Municipal classes for statewide parcel map-down
Maintenance strategy and responsibility
County Deeds/Plans linkage
Outline due: 10/20
Target team presentation: November GeoLibrary Board meeting
At the November meeting, Rich plans to present his final report. He will have first spot on the agenda after minutes.

Q: MRS collects land classification information; how is it used? Can it be used elsewhere?
A: The coding is fairly extensive but the entries are not always reliable. We have no figures on the reliability.
Q: You mentioned that MRS is ‘not very enthusiastic’ about this project?
A: Yes, but they are cooperative. It is as usual a matter of resources, funding and an agency barely able to keep up with their work. Serious funding would have to precede any expansion of their maintenance program as we discussed earlier.
Q: Have you gotten Nancy Armentrout’s comments yet?
A: Yes and also from Will Mitchell. They need to be incorporated.
Q: This is extensive and perhaps not possible. Can we reduce this to a few strong points, a smaller presentation?
A: We could do “smaller steps”. It would be an incremental approach.
Q: Is there a system that actually works?
A: That’s a good question. For Maine we don’t really know yet. In any case a pilot project to start with would be called for.

4. Membership
The Board currently has two vacant positions: Representing Utility Interests and Representing GIS Vendors. The former is appointed by the Governor and the latter by the President of the Senate. The legislation does not specify a nominating authority for either position.

Mike Smith proposed that the Board nominate Stu Rich from Penobscot Bay Media to represent vendors. He is well know in the Maine GIS community and has in the past expressed interest in being on the Board. Gretchen Heldmann suggested one Greg Davis who works for Time Warner Cable to represent utilities. He has said he will serve if appointed.

There was some discussion of the lack of success in finding a utilities representative. The last appointment was able to attend only one meeting. Board members have made unsuccessful attempts to interest someone from one of the electric or telecom industries in Maine in serving. Notwithstanding there was some concern that Mr. Davis was unknown to the Board and most everyone else. It was related that he does have a GIS background.

Mike Smith moved to have the Board nominate Stu Rich to the seat Representing GIS Vendors. Ken Murchison seconded. The Board voted 9 in favor, none opposed, Chair abstaining. The motion carried.

Mike Smith moved to have the Board nominate Greg Davis to the seat Representing Utility Interests. Gretchen Heldmann seconded. There was brief discussion of the Mr. Davis being somewhat of an unknown quantity, those present knowing little of him. It was suggested that someone from a larger and more traditional utility be found. The Board voted 8 in favor, 1 opposed, Chair abstaining. The motion carried.

5. GIS Day
Mike Smith explained that GIS Day, November 19th, could be an excellent opportunity to promote the Geolibrary in general and the bonding proposal in particular. Bridgit Kirouac and Larry Harwood of his office are handling the arrangements. Larry reported on the details.

The Hall of Flags in the State House has been reserved for the day. The event will run from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM with an hour on each end to set up and pack up. There is electric power, a wireless connection and tables – up to 15 with chairs. The area is not good for large displays such as at Maine Municipal Assoc. conventions. We have made a several draft handouts which will be circulated to the Board for review in a couple of days. So far there are the following participants:

Representing the Geolibrary
Nancy Armentrout
Marilyn Lutz
Paul Hoffman
Christopher Kroot, demonstrating the GeoPortal
Representing Town of Hampden
Gretchen Heldmann
Representing the towns of Saco & Scarborough
Aimee Dubois
Representing the Town of Bar Harbor
Steve Weed
From MSAD 47
Lennie Goff – demonstrating transportation cost savings with GIS
From State Planning Office
Joe Young demonstrating how flood plain management benefits from Geolibrary data
Dan Walters
A static display, perhaps attendant or Dan Walters will handle
A static display of uses of Geolibrary data in The County.
Also possibly static displays from the towns of South Berwick and Searsport.

It was suggested that letters of invitation be sent to the legislature and the Governor. MEGIS will make the drafts of these and forward to the Chair for review. It was also suggested that a press release could be written and distributed.

6. Subcommittee reports
There were no changes to the previously submitted financial report.

Policy and Marketing
Rather than a report per se there was a discussion of new promotional materials in general and in particular in support of the latest bond request. Marilyn Lutz suggested it was time for a new Geolibrary brochure and this was well received. The Policy Committee will develop a conceptual framework for the new brochure and a budget for its creation and bring this back to the Board.

On the more specific matter of promoting the bond request, the Policy Committee will write a short one page justification for the bonding request for general consumption. It was also suggested that the Board solicit letters of support from towns and other non-state entities in support of the bond request. Gretchen Heldmann agreed to write a template or generic letter of support that can be provided to municipalities.

Status of the GeoPortal
The appropriation of $8,000 to pay ESRI to encrypt the password for the GeoPortal in the event will not be needed. There remains also enough funding to set up the ESRI 9.3 version of the portal after which the metadata upload interface will be installed. By the end of the year there will be a fully functional beta site running.

The USGS has funded a temporary position to help the University of Southern Maine (USM) with the loading of metadata from municipalities and other non-state organizations. This is the beginning of setting up data and metadata stewards – outside of state government - for the portal.
Q: Can we get this in writing?
A: Certainly but remember we are just getting started. We should have a firm schedule soon.
Q: The details of the Web Mapping Services are complicated. Can people use the GeoPortal to view these?
A: It can be done. We would not need anything more than the existing mapping component.

Additional Item – USGS Grants
Dan Walters, Maine USGS liaison, announced that requests were being accepted for the Fiscal Year 2010 round of Cooperative Agreements Program (CAP) grants in seven categories. There is $375,000 in funding available. The Geolibrary is well established with the current CAT 3 grant project and is also the ‘state coordinating group’. A match is not necessarily required but it depends on the proposal and the more partners the better. What Dan wanted was a small ad hoc committee to help craft proposals.

The Chair called for volunteers. In addition to Dan Walters the committee will include Marilyn Lutz, Mike Smith, Vinton Valentine and Joe Young (who was ‘volunteered’ in absentia). The committee will try to have recommendations for the next Board meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:13

Attachment A

James W. Sewall Company
Project Update Report

Client: Maine GeoLibrary Board
Project: Strategic Plan and Integrated Land Records Information System

Monthly Status Report: October 15, 2008

This document provides a summary of ongoing activities relating to the Strategic Plan and Integrated Land Records Information System for the State of Maine. Its purpose is to provide a monthly snapshot of ongoing developments of this project.

Project Status:
• Data Gathering Forums – Forums were held in Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, and South Portland in late April and early May. Summaries of each Forum as well as an overall summary were made and submitted to the Board. The Forum reports have been posted on the website.

• On-Line Survey - The survey was completed on June 4, 2008. 245 folks participated in it and 188 completed the entire survey. A full report on the survey was provided on June 17, 2008 and is posted on the GeoLibrary web site.

• Project Outlines
o The strategic plan project outline was submitted for approval on April 15, 2008. Minor comments were received on May 15, 2008 and May 28, 2008. Additional comments were received in June. Notification of the final comments was received July 3, 2008. A revised outline was forwarded on July 8, 2008. At the request of the Sewall Team, a final discussion on the outline was held in Augusta on July 15, 2008. Client approval was received on July 22, 2008.
o The Integrated Land Records Information System Research Phase outline was submitted on May 18, 2008. Comments were received in June. Notification of the final comments was received on July 3, 2008. Client approval was received July 14, 2008.
o The Integrated Land Records Information System Promotion Phase draft outline/document was distributed on September 16, 2008.

• Project Schedule

o The project schedule was submitted for approval on April 15, 2008. Client approval was received on May 21, 2008. It was updated again June 9, 2008, September 15, 2008, and October 14, 2008. The majority of the deliverables will now be made in the fall.

• Items completed in the past 30 days:
o ILRIS Promotion Planning Document Outline – September 16, 2008 - (Sewall Team)
o Presentation to the GeoLibrary Board on Strategic Plan – review of findings (issues & gaps) and discussion of implementation strategy; ILRIS project update – September 17, 2008 - (Sewall Team)
o Research Document – Report Draft #1 of the Integrated Land Records Information System Task – October 4, 2008 - (Sewall Team)
o Presentation of Strategic Plan and Land Records Research to Counties and MEGUG, Presque Isle – September 26-27, 2008 – (Sewall Team)

• Items due in the next 30 days:

- ILRIS Research Findings final document – Modification of 1st Draft subject to Project Team comments; (Sewall Team) (Awaits comments from Project Team)
- Conceptual Framework Strategy Outline of the Integrated Land Records Information System Task. (Sewall Team) (Awaits approval of Research Findings Document prior to proceeding per Project Team request)
- Strategic Plan Update (Sewall Team)

Outstanding items:
• Comments and/or approval of the ILRIS Promotion Planning Document Outline (Project Team)
• Comments and/or approval of the ILRIS Research Findings document (Project Team)