Caribou council vote will dissolve Nylander board of directors

2 years ago

This story has been updated.

CARIBOU, Maine — The volunteer board of a local museum will be dissolved and the public library director will oversee the facility following a vote by the Caribou City Council on Dec. 13.

All seven councilors were present for the group’s final meeting of 2021, during which they also discussed broadband providers.

During a public hearing, councilors discussed Deputy Mayor Tom Ayer’s Nov. 29 proposal to disband the museum’s volunteer board and appoint Caribou Public Library Director Peter Baldwin the Nylander Museum’s director, responsible for its budget and resources. He would work closely with Frank Scalora, the museum’s part-time employee. Both residents and councilors were concerned about adding to Baldwin’s already full plate.  

“Assuming the role as a second director exceeds the scope as written in his current job description,” said Nylander board member Kathryn Olmstead via a letter.  

“I believe this shouldn’t be voted on or passed tonight. This would be pretty taxing on the new director and it would overtax their responsibilities as library director,” said Councilor Joan Theriault.

“I’m confident that Frank and Peter could handle the responsibility,” Ayer said. 

The museum is a city department with only one part-time employee, Scalora, who is currently working on cataloging the museum’s artifacts. 

The Nylander Museum in Caribou. (File: Chris Bouchard | Aroostook Republican)

The Nylander was dedicated in 1939 to house the collections of Swedish naturalist Olof Nylander, according to the city of Caribou’s website. The city owns the museum and its contents.

The council ultimately voted 4-3 in favor of dissolving the seven-member volunteer board. 

A large part of the meeting was devoted to presentations from possible broadband providers. Simon Thorne of Consolidated Communications told the council about the services the company provides. They would be able to switch some people over for free if they already have a direct line, but creating new lines for residents who have not already been served could prove difficult and costly. 

The second presentation came from John Swanberg of Business Investment Group of Caribou, who wants to establish a dark fiber network for the city, and have the profits be reinvested into the community. They would need a loan of $1.5 million from the city to begin ordering the necessary materials, but could offer broadband that others can use, be it residents or companies. 

The council has not yet selected a broadband provider.

City Manager Penny Thompson then reported several things of note.  The city is working to set up a conference call with those involved in the Ogren Dump solar project as they gather the necessary equipment to continue. The library will have several holiday events happening, and there is a “senior Santa” tree at the wellness center, Thompson said.

The Jarosz storage on Limestone Street is nearing its completion. Radio ads have been put in place to encourage Caribou residents to shop local this holiday season. Renovations have begun on the storefront of the Bennett Drive redemption center.

Elizabeth Singer of Cary Medical Center has been in touch with Caribou High School about coordinating efforts for students to help seniors shovel their driveways. 

Shawn Pelletier, who has been doing work at 60 Access Highway, is trying to get a credit enhancement agreement for the property. The goal is to have the property turned into a state-of-the-art bowling facility. The council expressed wishes to work with Pelletier in the near future, but no agreements were made. 

Councilor Ayer received a clock for his time on the council, as this would be his last meeting before his term ends.  

The next Caribou City Council meeting will be held on Jan. 3 at 6 pm. The recording of this meeting will be made available on the Caribou Maine YouTube channel.

Correction: A previous version of this story indicated the Nylander Museum would be dissolved. In fact, the museum’s volunteer board will be dissolved. The museum itself will be transferred to the leadership of Caribou Public Library Director Peter Baldwin.