Ashland manager asks NMDC board to oppose national park

Joshua Archer, Special to The County
9 years ago

Ashland manager asks NMDC board
to oppose national park

CARIBOU, Maine Ashland Town Manager and NMDC board member Ralph Dwyer asked the board recently to come out against the proposed legislation that could turn 150,000 acres of land in the Katahdin region into a national park.

Dwyer said that if Katahdin were to become a national park it would be “bad for the community.”
Board member Patricia Sutherland said she wasn’t prepared to take a vote for or against coming out in opposition of the park.
“If you’re for economic development you’re against the park,” Dwyer said.
NMDC board members tabled further discussion on park legislation until their June 25, 2015 meeting in St. Agatha.
Lucas St. Clair, spokesman for the park legislation, spoke in front of the NMDC board on April 9. A meeting was held in Ashland on April 22 to hear from those opposed to the legislation. Documents from that meeting have been made available to the NMDC board so they may make an informed decision.
Agenda item nine at Thursday’s meeting was legislation LD 1066. Board member and Houlton Town Manager Butch Asselin discussed the language of the bill.
The legislation would allow the Gambling Control Board to accept an application for a casino license from the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. The issuing of a license would require referendum approval of the voters of Aroostook County.
The casino would be taxed at 34 percent of net slot income and 16 percent of net table game income.
An estimate of potential revenues generated by the casino with 350 slot machines and 10 table games may generate $200,663 annually for the state’s general fund and $7,195,372 for various other funds.
The Gambling Control Board’s other special revenue funds account would also receive license fees of $1,236,000 the first year, and $191,000 for license renewals in subsequent years.
The bill will require an annual general fund appropriations of $260,824 and other special revenue funds allocations for $262,686 to the Department of Public Safety to cover annual state costs.
The legislation states that the addition of a new casino would have only a minor impact on revenues generated by the existing Hollywood and Oxford casinos.
Asselin said he expects a boom if the legislation passes, “Hopefully everybody at either end of the county will feel the benefits.”
“This would be a job creator and create additional revenue to towns in lieu of the loss of cost sharing in the state,” NMDC Executive Director Bob Clark said. “On a pure economic side it will be beneficial.”
In other business, NMDC is submitting a grant application to USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business Development Grant program in the amount of $75,000 to assist small- to medium-sized growers in Aroostook, Washington and Piscataquis counties in marketing their produce.
This is to be a Great Regions application. Two years ago USDA named the three counties a Great Region, and NMDC was named a partner in the Great Region.
The NMDC board meets again Thursday, June 25, at 3 p.m at the Lakeview Restaurant in St. Agatha.