Greenville residents pass all articles at special town meeting

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    GREENVILLE — A small turnout of Greenville residents passed all articles on a special town meeting warrant Aug. 27 with few questions and limited debate.
    Voters approved the long-awaited comprehensive plan; accepted a $94,500 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and a $5,200 grant from the state to complete a new airport master plan; approved the lease of a small strip of land to the Shaw Library Association so a connector can be built between the main building and the annex; and authorized the Board of Selectmen to sell a vacant building in the industrial park.

    A public hearing on the Shaw Public Library article actually took three minutes longer than the town meeting itself.
    Dr. Ken Woodbury, the economic development director for the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, explained that a “high end” estimate for the connector building is $197,000 and his agency is applying for a $50,000 U.S.D.A. grant to pay for part of it. “This is something that will not be done until late next summer or fall,” Woodbury said.
    The remainder of the cost would be taken out by a 40-year, 3.5 percent interest loan with the expectation that “all of it will be paid for by donations to the library association through outside sources and foundations. We’re not asking the citizens of Greenville or the town to pay anything,” said Woodbury, who is also a Shaw’s Public Library trustee.
    The Vernon and Barbara Davis Memorial Annex opened in 2010 and includes a children’s library, kitchen, office space and a community meeting room. The connector would make it easier for patrons to walk back and forth between the buildings under cover and all access to handicapped-accessible rest rooms in the new building, Woodbury said. “It’s doubtful that this grant money will be available forever,” he added. “But the USDA does want to advance funding for libraries. They’re high on the priority list.”
    The 26 residents who attended the hearing and town meeting breezed through the first three articles with no questions on the comprehensive plan, only a few about the airport grant and no debate on the library connector. Jake Morrill, longtime moderator of the annual town meeting, was chosen to chair the session.
    The sale of the industrial park building generated a lengthy discussion as some residents asked for an amendment to require that a certain number of jobs be created as a condition for the sale. Janet Chasse said that she was concerned that someone “could buy it and use it for boat storage, since that’s considered industrial use.” Interim Town Manager Jack Hart said that he was confident that job creation “would certainly be considered by the Board of Selectmen.”
    The building was formerly occupied by Pepin Associates, a manufacturer of composite products for the aeronautics industry. The company downsized this year due to cutbacks in government contracts, but still maintains a presence in a smaller building.
    Betty Ryder offered an amendment to the article that would have mandated that the sale be contingent “on the creation of three permanent jobs.” But John Simko, who was rehired as Greenville’s town manager on Sept. 2, advised against the restriction. He recalled that a similar discussion took place years ago about the sale of another lot, and the town’s attorney advised them that “it would impact the ability (of the buyer) to get financing. It’s intangible. How do you define ‘permanent’ jobs? It’s a risk factor.”
    Luke Muzzy also said he was skeptical about the amendment “because it would only be good for the first sale. What if the party goes out of business? I’ve never seen a deed comes through with a requirement for job creation.”
    Bonnie DuBien, chair of the Board of Selectmen, said that everyone should understand “that the building was built with economic development in mind. It will be sold for the benefit of the town.” Eventually, the amendment was defeated and article passed easily on a show-of-hands vote.

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