Opinion

Elderly housing project a boon

To the editor:

I wish to express my sincere thanks to the members of the Hilltop School Elderly Housing LLC and to the Caribou city manager for bringing this project back on line for the benefit of the seniors of the community. It is something that was needed in Caribou.

Although I had voiced my opinion that the Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) deal was well beyond the standards that the citizens of Caribou had previously been accustomed to and wanted them to be aware of the exact amount that this TIF would be returning to the LLC, it did in no way reflect upon my ability to recognize that it had taken this effort to bring back the LLC to the bargaining table.

The LLC, in a good-faith gesture, had made an agreement with [RSU] 39 to remove 40 percent of their liability for disposal of the unnecessary and burdensome maintenance of property they were responsible for. A due-diligence study showed that the project would not be feasible because of the asbestos installed by Caribou. The cost of asbestos removal would have made the project financially unattainable. They asked the Caribou City Council to accept the burden of removing the asbestos they had installed.

The Caribou mayor, along with other council members, in their profound wisdom promptly announced they would not pay for the asbestos removal on a deal that was made between the LLC and RSU 39. That dissension was a slap in the face to the gentlemen of the LLC. They promptly withdrew the construction of the elderly housing project [from] the table.

The efforts of our new city manager using the tools available to him (TIF) and stretching them to their maximum legal limits were able to bring the LLC project back to the table.

The citizens of Caribou can be thankful that persons like our new city manager and members of this LLC have the best interest of Caribou citizens on their minds and hearts.

I am quite sure that the negative vote of the two council members was not a rejection of the project, but was one of disdain for the way this city council handled this project.

The city council should not only have accepted its responsibility for the removal of the asbestos, which had been installed by us, but should have offered the LLC a TIF program right from the start, although I do not believe they asked for one. This is something they would have offered to any outside interest that wanted to establish themselves in our community.

Maynard St. Peter

Caribou

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