Dear Mrs. DiBona,
I feel that someone owes you an apology.
In the absence of anybody else stepping up to the plate, I will attempt to apologize for this mess it seems your timing has landed you in the middle of. Please understand, residents of this area welcome new people from virtually anywhere, to move here and enjoy this "Way of Life," as we do. What is not appreciated are the those who will move into quiet residential neighborhoods, and use their property as launching sites for tourists. Having met both you and your husband, I know that is not the case with you. Millinocket has been a tourist Mecca and gateway to Baxter State Park since Governor Percival Baxter donated the land decades ago, and as a result, terms like "Flatlanders" have been used to characterize new residents and visitors who aren't from around here. Oddly enough, new residents that have come here from stress-filled jobs and lifestyles, appreciate this way of life more than longtime residents do. We tend to take it for granted, at times.
The Nature Conservancy landed its fourth Chapter here in 1956, their planned mission to remove man's incursion from the lakes and ponds includes the removal of the paper industry, also. The success of their mission can be measured by counting the paper machines still in operation. At last count, ten down, and one to go. The methods they have used have been extremely successful, and all involve control. How else can one explain the mill being sold five times in sixteen years, while the same Land Manager has controlled the land for all five companies.
With literally a dozen or more entities knocking at the door to buy land and set up shop here, the land manager was inclined to do a presentation at a recent Town Council Meeting, just before a vote on annexation. During her presentation she stated: "These developers or business people whom we've heard about, who are looking for undeveloped land? We haven't heard from them, who are they talking to? I would like to know who they are." An employee of New England Outdoor Center also restated her claims that certainly no one has come here looking for land. Finally, MAGIC representative, Bruce Mclean, got up to the mike and declared: "I've heard some stories in the newspaper that there's been a dozen or so businesses over the last few years that have come and looked and not found land. I have not been involved in any of those cases. I don't know of any of them."
Several false statements were made for the sole purpose of "killing" the annexation process before it could go to the voters. They have done serious damage to any effort to diversify our economy. They also leave honest, hardworking business people baffled, and wondering why someone in that position would lie to a degree that would inflict harm to the town they pretend to care for. These false and misleading statements are the reason that you have been caught up in all this controversy. Mr. Busque, other Councilors, and myself are indeed fed up with the lies and underhanded tactics used to take control over our small town. Unfortunately, you and your husband have been caught in the middle of it and for this I apologize to you.
The first and only mistake you made, was using the "M" word: Manufacturing. It's hard to believe, because anywhere else the "M" word is a good thing. Millinocket, however, is slated to be a "Gateway Community," a designation that was made without the knowledge or consent of the citizens. As such, the current population of 5,200 (as of the last official census), is slated to be reduced to 4,000 by 2015. These results were obtained through a housing study performed by the State and paid for, in part, by MAGIC.
I used the "M" word myself a few years ago when myself, Paul Gagnon and someone who prefers to remain nameless, presented a proposal to purchase the GNP Barn property. We had presented plans to manufacture wood products, build retail sales structures that were designed to attract bored tourists, and provide an office to aid small business start-ups. Combined, 40-50 jobs could have been created. In a matter of hours, MAGIC had arrived at Paul's "West Branch Traders" shop at 14 Congress Street, and made this statement:
"MAGIC has decided that because we have the connections to obtain grants and achieve funding by means that are not available to you, we have decided take over the barn purchase. When our renovations are complete, we will sell it to you."
Paul's response was: "Thanks, but no thanks, and we would appreciate it if you would leave us and our plans alone."
MAGIC agreed to this request in person, but the project was killed anyway. Although the Company responded with additional information pertaining to the liabilities on the site, the Company never responded to, or acknowledged our bid to purchase the property.
After the stench of MAGIC's interference hit the Town Council, I was approached by the company's public relations director and told to bid the property again. So I found two new partners and did so, only to realize that once the "M" word has been used, the opposition that it generates within the "Green Bloc", is far too powerful to overcome. The actual agenda of MAGIC, versus the positive press machine it operates, can easily be separated by one thing: RESULTS. Following two legitimate offers and purchase attempts, detailed mappings and blueprints of all the structures, a preliminary business plan presentation to the company, and preliminary blueprints detailing a woodworking production facility, combined with nine retail sales structures, what was the RESULT of all that work? Answer: NOTHING!
All because I used the "M" word.
I was very moved by your letter and feel bad that your simple and honest plans to achieve the "American Dream," right here in Millinocket, got caught up in the lies and deception used by MAGIC and the land manager, for the purpose of killing annexation. I feel bad because I had been researching MAGIC and their Wilderness Society friends' efforts to designate Millinocket as a "Gateway Community" since September of 2000. It was only recently that I was able to collect and present the information that shows MAGIC's actual function of reducing Millinocket's population and keeping high paying jobs out.
I apologize because you and other honest, hardworking people have been lied to and made to become a political football, at a time when the citizens of Millinocket just are not going to take it anymore. I cannot imagine how insulting it must have been to have been one of the dozen or more entrepreneurs who came to MAGIC and the Company, with their private plans and dreams, only to hear in a Town Council meeting that they had never existed.
I can now show documentation illustrating Matt Polstein's signature on a "Resolve" produced by our Town Council against RESTORE and the formation of a National Park in this area, dated 9-12-2000. I can also show a Grant application, again signed by Matt, dated 12-2-2000, requesting $75,000.00 that would later involve the parent Company of RESTORE, The Wilderness Society, to "Develop a comprehensive plan for the Region's transition to a Gateway Community to the Northern Maine Forest" (National Park). This was done several years before the bankruptcy filing of Great Northern Paper Company, our largest employer.
There will be development and annexation in Millinocket whether the opposition likes it or not. Unfortunately, progress in that direction has been made very difficult by the "Green Bloc" that exists and still holds influence within our own Town Council. However, we are making "Progress" in that direction also.
David P. Cyr
Related Article: Time To Speak Up