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Machias Valley News Observer, January 16, 2009

NEWS with VIEWS

by Nancy Oden

Another Pie-in-the-Sky Proposal looking for Taxpayer Help

As promised last week, here’s the other major proposal that came before the Washington County Commissioners at their January 9 meeting. [Member of the Public, MOTP, is yrs. truly.]

Adam Myers and two partners, said to be Scott Lumiere and Tom Manning of the Portland area, own Cutler Industrial Park, which was part of the old Cutler Naval Base. Myers came before the Commissioners to present a new “concept,” since, as Myers said, the Industrial Park has not attracted enough tenants to pay the bills. Look’s Canning is their primary tenant now.

This new “concept” presented by Myers is to re-make the Industrial Park into an eco-tourism destination. His presentation was chock-full of color pictures and wonderful ideas. All they need to make it come true is money, rather lots of it, which they do not have.

The major problem with tourist destinations, of course, is getting people to come, especially in a recession/depression. With Cutler, there is also the problem of the ugly towers, which, aside from the aesthetics, emit powerful and dangerous ELF radiation.

Myers was looking for either a letter of support, or, in his words, “collaborative funding” (whatever that means) from the Commissioners. This would be Washington County taxpayers’ money, and Commission Chair Chris Gardner made it clear no taxpayers’ money would be forthcoming for this private enterprise.

The Town of Cutler has assessed the Industrial Park — not including the old Navy housing section, which is separately owned — for a stunning $2.98 million dollars, with an annual tax bill of $25,000. Since the Industrial Park has a TIF business tax break, the Town of Cutler shares in their tax break.

Adam Myers had also pleaded his case before the Washington County Development Authority (WCDA) in October, looking for taxpayer money to back up a large loan (if memory serves, it was something on the order of $700,000) they want the bank to loan them to pay off a mortgage now due.

At a subsequent WCDA meeting after Myers had posed his “concept” plan, Ed Pellon, who’s on the Board of WCDA, said that the Cutler Industrial Park has serious problems with their septic systems, which would have to be straightened out before they could function properly.

The County Commissioners resisted MOTP’s revelations of Cutler Industrial Park’s financial status, saying it was a private company, but MOTP pointed out that, even though it was a private, speculative venture, Myers was there looking for financial help with taxpayers’ money, so their financial status should be public information.

Too many taxpayer-funded handouts go to private businesses without input from the taxpayers, whose money it is.

I’m the only Member of the Public who is not involved in any of the taxpayer-funded, so-called “economic development” groups who attends these meetings, so if you can make it to these meetings and be prepared to ask good questions, you would add to citizens’ input into important decisions.

County Commissioners meet the first Thursday of every month at 4:00pm in the Courthouse on Court Street in Machias.

WCDA meets, usually, on the third Tuesday of every month, usually in the Career Center out back of Sears in Machias. Check local papers for possible changes.

These meetings are all open to the public by law.

Come learn what goes on behind the scenes. Decisions are being made by a small group of (mostly) men, but these decisions affect us all.

There need to be more public hearings on important matters. Perhaps there could be referendum questions on the ballot each Election Day so our elected officials know what we want.

For really important questions, such as whether to allow other people’s garbage to be dumped/burned in Washington County, we should have Public Hearings followed by a binding Referendum vote so citizens’ are making the decisions that affect our lives.

Comments? Questions?

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