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Writing and Photography by Lee and Connie Rand
MANY FAST-BREAKING LOCAL NEWS STORIES CAN BE FOLLOWED IN REAL TIME ON OUR "WELCOME TO LINCOLN, MAINE" FACEBOOK PAGE OR ON TWITTER @LINCOLNMAINEUS. *
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Local election information
Town announces public hearing
TOWN OF LINCOLN PUBLIC NOTICE
PETITION TO RECONSIDER
Notice is hereby given that the Town Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, October 6, 2014 at 6:00PM in the Council Chambers for the purpose of hearing written and oral comments on the Petitions to Reconsider the August 25th Council Vote filed with the Town Clerk between the dates of 9/11/2014 to 9/16/2014; per the requirements outlined in the Municipal Charter, Section VIII. During this same meeting, the Council may entertain possible dates in which to call an Election bringing forth the ballot question as circulated by the five registered voters. Copies of the 27 validated petitions are on file at the Town Office and shall be presented to the Council at said meeting.
LP&T to restart production
September 19 - On Monday, Lincoln Pulp & Tissue will begin production after a 10-day maintenance and backlog-management shutdown. According to mill owner Keith Van Scotter, the shutdown allowed LP&T to manage their orders as efficiently as possible. The mill has had a challenging year, he said, but he feels its prospects are good.
NOTICE: The public meeting scheduled for Thursday evening to discuss the proposed Town Hall situation at the Vocational School has been cancelled. The Lincoln Town council will meet in closed session to discuss the search for a new Town Manager.
Two more candidates for town council
Grant Polomsky Receives His Town Council Nomination Papers Today From Town Clerk Shelley Crosby.
September 2 - Incumbent Marscella Ireland, Sue Daigle, Gilberte Mayo and Grant Polomsky have now added their names to the list of candidates in the upcoming election to the Lincoln Town Council.
Town council race heats up
Lincoln Town Council, front row left to right - Marscella Ireland, Chris Stevens and Dede Trask. Back row left to right - Sam Clay, Vice Chairman Curt Ring, Chairman Steve Clay and David Whalen.
August 28 - The Lincoln Town Council race has heated up quite a bit this week following Monday’s council meeting, and the availability of nomination papers for the two three-year terms that are open. As of today current Town Council Chairman Steve Clay has taken out papers. His is one of the two seats open in the November 4th election. The other seat is currently held by Marscella Ireland, who has not taken out Nomination papers as of yet.
Current Maine State Representative Jeff Gifford, Thora House (a former council member), Jamey House and Mathew Berry have also taken out papers for the two seats open. The deadline for returning nomination papers with at least 25 signatures is September 22nd. Papers can be picked up by any potential candidate at the Lincoln Town Office on Main Street.
There could be quite a number of citizens vying for the two seats, as several town citizens have expressed to us an interest in possibly running. We’ll keep area voters updated on any new candidates who may announce between now and the deadline on the Lincoln area web site www.WelcomeToLincolnMaine.com and its companion Facebook page.
Mason's Trust responds to Lincoln Town Council vote
August 26 - We received the followed letter from the Mason’s Trust about the Lincoln Town Council’s vote that was taken Monday concerning proposals for a new Town Hall. The Council voted 5-1 (Dede Trask was absent) to accept the proposal by Sterling Osgood for a new Town Hall on Fleming Street. www.WelcomeToLincolnMaine.com and its parent company, Rand Advertising LLC, do not take public positions on political issues, and does not on this one. However, in the spirit of having a better informed public, as a public service we will publish the letter from the Mason’s Trust on the Lincoln area web site and its companion Facebook page. We will also publish any rebuttal or statement from the Lincoln Town Council.
Lee & Connie
"Town Office Decisions"
The Trustees of the Lincoln Masonic Fraternity would like to bring the following facts regarding the plans for the future location of the Town Office to the attention of Lincoln residents.
The Town Office has been housed in the 110 year-old Masonic Building for nearly 70 years.
Currently the Town pays a monthly fee for a contracted 3,850 sq.ft. The Town actually utilizes 4,100 sq.ft. (some storage and the Town was given permission to construct the vault) at no additional cost. The lease fee also covers heat, water, sewer, and trash removal, as well as permitted use of the dining hall for events at no additional cost.
These conditions were set out in the current ten year lease, dated from December 1, 2005 through November 30, 2015. The costs have changed somewhat over this period according to the terms of the lease. For the contracted space (3,850 sqft) the cost has gone from $6.00 / sq.ft. in 2006 to $8.00/ sq.ft. in 2014. If you consider the actual utilized space (4,100 sq.ft.) it has gone from $5.63/sq.ft. to $7.51/sq. ft. Currently the Town pays $2,556.25/mo, or $30,795/yr.
Going rental rates /sq.ft. on Main St. in Lincoln are about $12-14/sq.ft. without heat or utilities. Some spaces are a bit lower in consideration of length of lease, or the tenant’s taking on the costs of renovations or modifications, or a planned option to buy. For example, the school district leases for about $10/sq.ft. without heat or utilities, and has an option to buy. This arrangement began in 2005. Currently the school district pays $3,000/mo, or $36,000/yr for 3,760 sq.ft.
In 2004, about the time the prior lease for the Town Office would have been up for renewal, the Town Council called for a study of the feasibility of purchasing the Masonic Building and the costs of modifications to better meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements among other things. Because of the age of the building, it is not required to conform, but all agree this is desirable, and important. The study was postponed when the prior mill closure occurred. To our knowledge, this study has never been done.
Also of note, is that the Town Office gave notice of its intent to terminate its current lease early, dated February 14, 2012…thereby ending the lease on February 28, 2015 instead of November 30, 2015.
The Town management has put out Requests for Proposals concerning the Town Office on at least 3 occasions in the last 2 years. In the request dated 7/23/14 the first paragraph reads “…It should be clearly stated the Town of Lincoln is looking for a lease to own option with this proposal.”
The Masonic Fraternity has made the following proposals to the Town in recent years:
Dated January 25, 2012
Sale to the Town of Lincoln land and buildings at 63 Main St. for a sum equal to 80% of its current assessed value (Structures $207,800; Land $62,100; Total $269,000). The Fraternity offered to finance the purchase price for 30 years at zero interest.
This agreement would include granted use by the Fraternity of the third floor in perpetuity as well as certain insurance and other protections for the Fraternity, e.g. right of first refusal in the event the Town quits the building.
Dated November 17, 2013
Sale to the Town of Lincoln land and buildings at 63 Main St. for a sum of $50,000. The Fraternity would consider returning the sale price to the Town to be used for the purchase of an elevator for the facility. Again, the use of the third floor and protections for the Fraternity would be part of the agreement.
Dated November 17, 2013
Proposal for Renovations to the current Town Office: to involve a mutual assessment of the renovations and cost analysis with planned adjustments to the lease price to include renovations in a pay-ahead format. Again the use of the third floor and other protections would be part of the agreement.
Since these proposals the Fraternity has partially re-roofed the building as well as repaired the front steps of the building entrance.
The Masonic Fraternity remains open and willing to work with the Town to achieve its goals.
The proposed cost to renovate Ballard Hill will result in a more than doubling, nearly tripling of the current monthly costs and will not include heat ,water, sewer, utilities, or the costs of furnishing the building, but is offset somewhat by no longer paying additionally to heat the empty building, and is 10,000sqft. The cost per Bangor Daily News article: $6,850/mo (x15yr lease with option to buy) or $82,200/yr
The proposed cost to build a new building on Fleming Street will result in a more than doubling, nearly tripling of the current monthly costs for less than a doubling of utilized space (6,000 vs 4,100 sq.ft.) and will not include heat, water, sewer, utilities, or the costs of furnishing the building. The cost per Bangor Daily News article $6,358/mo (x 20 yr lease with option to buy) or $76,296/yr
At the end of the proposed new construction, the Town will be faced with an additional expense to purchase the building at a cost that has not yet been included in the agreements but is said to be $1 or a “gift”.
We, and many citizens have urged the Town Council not to rush this decision. We urged the Town Council to diligently seek the input of the Town’s people whom they have been elected to represent. Although this has been an issue in consideration by the Town for some time, it is only in the last week or so that public scrutiny of the proposals has been possible. We urged, as did many of those present at the meeting, and one councilor, that this matter be presented in detail to the people of Lincoln in a referendum. By statute, a “lease to own option”, as specifically requested in the Request for Proposals, requires a referendum.
The Town Council voted on Monday to proceed with a plan to move to a new location to be built on Fleming Street; the vote was worded “to lease only.” This decision was made in spite of many questions raised and unanswered. The Town’s new “lease” agreement substantially increases Town expenses. Those at the meeting were told this will not affect taxes because of TIF moneys to be applied. (If TIF moneys can be applied to leasing on Fleming St., why not on Main St.?) We understand that not every detail needs to be known in order to proceed; still, for such a major undertaking, we believe the townspeople should be asked.
We remind the Council and Lincoln citizens of the non-binding ballot taken in November of 2012 :
One question was: "Do you want the Town Council to purchase land AND build a new Town Office?" 1,602 Voters said NO, while 361 voters said yes. 82% of citizens voting said NO.
The other question asked was about renovating Ballard Hill and there was some favorable response on that account, though at the time no specifics were presented.
No question concerning the renovation of the current building or ‘staying put’ was on the ballot.
The Masons have attempted over many years to deal at least fairly, and in effort, generously, with the community, and specifically the Town management. It is with the same commitment to ethical conduct and in a spirit of generosity that this non-profit organization of volunteers offers this information for the Town’s people to consider. We continue to be willing and open to pursue creative solutions to the needs of the Town and Town Office in this uncertain economic time. We welcome you to contact us and encourage you to contact your Town Councilors on this matter.
Mark B. Weatherbee on behalf of the
Trustees of the Lincoln Masonic Fraternity