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Kathy Gagnon

Is Millinocket Ready for Condominiums?
By Kathy Gagnon
Jun 23, 2006 - 8:47:00 AM

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Is Millinocket ready for condominiums? People are having difficulty selling their homes for a reasonable price already, do we really need to add condos to the problem? With the number of homes on the market, a shortage of housing is not a problem for Millinocket. A dying downtown and a lack of employment and businesses is.

A development such as Mr. Benjamin is proposing will completely alter our landscape, not just visibly, but economically and culturally as well.

Studies have shown that almost all new residential development increases property taxes for the existing homeowners. Property taxes increase as the cost of providing public services for a growing population demands more of those services. This results in overstretching fire and police departments and burying the original residents under huge tax increases. It is likely that many of the local people who are still here will eventually be forced to sell their homes and move when they become unable to continue paying increasing property taxes. Without employment that provides adequate wages in the area, the likelihood is that much greater. The wages that tourism jobs pay will not be sufficient to keep up with the increasing cost of living since they pay far less than industry jobs.

In my opinion, this proposal will not only destroy a peaceful residential area, but it will ruin the character of the town. Part of the charm of Millinocket is itís small town quaintness that is quite visible as one comes to the area of Peddlerís Hill. Altering this neighborhood and area will forever change the scenic beauty which is a part of our townís history so that a developer can intrude into residential neighborhoods and provide housing that will offer a view of the mountain to those from away who can afford the privilege. Residents will pay the costs - through taxes and through loss of privacy, peace and quiet, and scenic beauty. Meanwhile, a developer who does not even live here or appreciate our town or itís history and culture will reap monetary benefits. He will be profiting by destroying the very things that make our community what it is, a small town. Millinocket does not need more housing that will bring down the value of existing homes, we need business and jobs.

Tourism will definitely play a role in this area, but it does not pay well and too much developed recreation and tourism can adversely effect the area and ruin the very things about living here that maintain our sense of the past and our small town values. Successful economic development brings a higher quality of life to a community, it does not change it to accommodate the development.

Millinocket needs businesses like Bantam Boilers to provide jobs and decent wages and we need businesses to provide the necessities that we are currently forced to travel to find.

We do not need more housing until or unless we first have businesses. If Mr. Benjamin wants to invest in Millinocket, maybe he should first do something with the several buildings that he owns in our dying and stagnant downtown area. We do not need the intrusion into our neighborhood that will devalue our homes and raise our taxes. We need to revitalize our downtown and bring in businesses.

Bozeman, Montana and Aspen, Colorado are communities that allowed outsiders to come in and develop, turning recreation into their dominant economic base. As a result, they have seen their communities transformed and they can no longer afford to live in their hometowns because wealthy recreationists have bid up the price of land and housing. With only low paying jobs available, most must move and leave behind their past, their homes, families and their traditions. We are at the threshold of this transformation.

Millinocket needs to take control of our own future. A good beginning would be to hire our own Economic Developer to bring business and jobs to the area. The time to act is running out and soon will be beyond our control.

MAGIC is not holding up itís end of the bargain for the investment Millinocket has made to it. Workshops and meetings that never move beyond talk are holding us back. I think it is time for the citizens of Millinocket to unite and work together to take action that will insure progress and revitalization for our town. Talk is cheap, letís take action.

The Economic Development Workshop that the town council held on June 5 left me feeling hopeful, but the lists of volunteers for committees have remained just that, lists. There have been no phone calls or organizing as promised. The next proposed meeting isnít scheduled until July 10. This is why nothing comes from these meetings except false hope. Are we going to sit back and watch our town fade away, or are we going to organize and create revitalization?


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