The January 8th special meeting was held to discuss the possibility of the town bidding on the purchase of the former J. J. Newberry's building. This came about because Guilds Hollowell, acting agent for the Katahdin Community Center (KCC), had defaulted on a loan with Bangor Savings Bank.
I'm sure we all remember the hoopla that centered around the KCC and how it would enhance the downtown area and bring the tourists.
After $30,000 from the Millinocket tax-payers and after having been granted a $125,000 loan from BSB, still not much happened with the building.
I believe the council's intention was to put an end to this blight on our main street. Once in the town's possession, this could be accomplished either by enticing a developer to put it to use or, if need be, it could be demolished.
Of course, the best case scenario would be if a developer would show an interest , but that truly seems unlikely, thus even its removal would dress up the downtown area.
And of course, Councilors Polstein, McLean and Mingo led the charge against this idea. In an effort to exert his opinion on the town, Polstein suggested a $15,000 maximum bid.
Of course, this was preposterous. First, it is simply illogical for any bidder to announce the top price they are willing to offer. Secondly, if the bank saw fit to approve a $125,000 loan on the building, to offer a maximum bid of $15,000 seems to me to be nothing more than a slap in the face and would indicate that the town/council is just going through the process with no real intent of acquiring ownership.
But then, maybe Polstein had ulterior motives in mind for the building. Perhaps to further the cause of the KCC which has already had its shot and failed miserably.
If however, that was his plan, we can be sure the KCC would have been asking for money from the town, or the state or the federal government and all of it would be at your taxpaying expense.
Thankfully, the council did the right thing. With a 4-3 vote the council agreed to give the manager the leeway needed to come up with a competitive bid.
Now maybe we can move forward?