Opinion

Blight impedes real development

To the editor:

“Welder” Doug and “Farmer” Mark went on a road trip yesterday morning in search of the Caribou home with the collapsed roof next to the funeral home. Before we found our target, without knowing what funeral home, and without even trying, we came across two other buildings that I would classify as in blight condition.

 

Page 5 of the recently presented Caribou Citizens Advisory Board Report for Residential/Urban Renewal, two paragraphs down, reads “…it seemed like everywhere we looked we were able to find substandard buildings in one form or another.” Living in rural Caribou, I wasn’t looking, but the above-mentioned road trip got my attention. 

I would like to state the following belief of “Farmer” Mark as a general statement: Caribou is losing the battle to attract big retail businesses. Due to the lack of inventory, Caribou is losing the battle with big-franchise businesses to stay in Caribou. I know Caribou is losing the battle when it comes to economic development. It’s my opinion that if we, the city council, as leaders are not careful, we will be on the losing end of being the best bedroom community in Aroostook County. 

Why are we losing? Because of blight.

Once again, page 5 of the report, third paragraph: “Surprisingly, one of the most egregious examples of substandard housing is found on Main Street at the city-owned trailer park.” From my point of view, the canary in the coal mine is showing signs of illness.

I would encourage councilors to read the report and then Appendix D, We Can Do This, a five step fast-track blight plan. It would be my hope that the 2020 sitting council would take on the issue of blight in Caribou, not only for the purpose of being Aroostook County’s best hometown, but as an example of what truly is “economic development”: the direct investment of time and money into Caribou’s taxable valuation. (It’s how we pay the bills without increasing the mill rate.) 

The report states, “There is no quick fix to solving the issue of blight,” and “There could be many potential barriers that might impede the City’s ability to deal with substandard housing.”

My reply, of course: if it was easy it would have been done by now.

I personally ran for city council to view this thing we call “government” from a different angle. I would hope we would look at the blight issue not as, “If we leave it alone, it will go away,” but as “If we don’t do something, we will lose another staple of our community.”

Mark Goughan, Mayor

Caribou

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