Opinion

Camaraderie and common goals

Consider this definition of community: “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals” Oxford University Press (2019) Lexico.com. The objective of this column is to share information about community undertakings in the City of Caribou tax assessment and code enforcement department. 

 

Since routes 1 and 161 converge in Caribou, our city is a gateway to other parts of Aroostook County and what happens here affects our neighbors. Here’s hoping that we can begin this new year together in a spirit of camaraderie while working towards common goals.

In April 2019, the Caribou City Council created the Citizens Advisory Board for Residential Rural/Urban Renewal, and over the next eight months the committee worked to produce and deliver a detailed plan to improve the quality of life and propel economic development initiatives in the community by confronting the blight problem. This month a committee was formed to take those recommendations and move forward with proactive measures aimed at restoring a sense of civic pride. 

This team of interested citizens and city staff recently held the group’s first meeting, and the brainstorming session was a successful start to identifying and categorizing both blighted properties and the necessary blight-busting tools. Paul Camping, a member of both the Citizens Advisory Board and the new committee, reminded the working group that the initiative “should convey or identify an urgent public purpose that can justify, in advance, the use of power tools like demolition …”

The Caribou Planning Board was invited to this kick-off meeting. Planning Board member Christine Solman stressed the importance of partnering with citizens in those identified neighborhoods when she advocated for “informing these owners and other community members of the benefits of renewing their properties.” 

Local leaders like Mr. Camping and Ms. Solman are investing of their time, energy and experience to improve our community, and they need your help. You can follow the project progress online at the City of Caribou webpage: under the “Living in Caribou” tab, click on “Blight Initiative.” If you have suggestions for the group, feel free to reach out to the City of Caribou staff on the committee. Small things can have a big impact, so please consider helping an elderly neighbor with a small home repair project or participate in the city’s annual “Clean Up Day.” 

Stay tuned for more updates on the committee’s progress.  

Also happening: Low income residential owners may qualify for funds available from the Small Community Grant Program to help replace a malfunctioning septic system. The applications must be submitted by Feb. 7, so contact your local municipal office soon. Taxpayers in the City of Caribou are encouraged to contact the Code Enforcement Office at 207-493-3324, extension 214 for Ken or extension 217 for Penny. If your call goes to voicemail, please leave a message.

Penny Thompson is Caribou’s tax assessor and building official. She can be reached at 207-493-5961 or pthompson@cariboumaine.org.

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