Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2013 Amtrak MLF vis-à-vis 2003 CBW

We’re reminded of civic circumstances roughly 10 years ago.  The Cape Brunswick Town Council, at the behest of a number of specially appointed study groups, had decided that the town needed to spend $13 million on two new Public Safety Buildings. 

The first was a combined Police HQ and Central Fire Station that was to be built on a downtown parcel that required demolishing several existing buildings, which seems to be a peculiar addiction of town governing elites.

The second was to be a Brunswick East Fire Substation, that as we recall, was to cost $1.8 million out of the $13 million total.  Believe it or not, the ‘original’ estimate was a total of $7 million, but by the time all the good intentions were included, the number had nearly doubled.

A referendum to have voters approve the $13 million bond was scheduled.  An ad hoc group of citizens was organized by former resident and town councilor Nancy Randolph to oppose the plan and analyze alternatives.

Long story short, this group decided to call itself “Citizens for a Better Way (CBW)” and began a campaign to defeat the referendum, on the basis that the need, while legitimate, could be better met by a lower cost, less destructive approach.

We were not hopeful we would succeed.  The Ostrich ran lavishly illustrated articles of law enforcement officers working in primitive quarters, while reminding us that the downtown fire station was built in the horse and buggy era.  The odds were stacked against us, because no matter what else residents grouse about, they almost NEVER refuse plans to build grandly conceived facilities for public safety professionals.

Imagine our group’s surprise when the day after the election, we learned that the referendum had been defeated by a margin of roughly two to one!  To say we were shocked is an understatement beyond all understatements.

Your correspondent learned two things from this.  First, never underestimate what the ‘sleeping dog’ constituency might amount to in any such election/referendum.  You never know how many folks are lying in the weeds waiting to tell those ‘in charge’ that it ‘ain’t gonna happen this time.’

Second, never trust or believe town officials when they say ‘we got your message loud and clear.’  That’s what they said after the vote, but it wasn’t very long before they started laying plans for work-arounds, and before Council Chair Charlie Priest (now in the state legislature) told us the approved Capital Improvement Program was ‘simply a guide.’

Since then, we have a new school, a new Fire Substation, a new Police Station, a new Town Hall (in transition), two new schools in the oven, and surely a new Central Fire Station before you can yell FIRE!

Which brings us to the current situation.

In which DGiles might say, “I love the smell of Brunswick Sausage in the morning.”  You may have forgotten, but we posted on Giles a few weeks ago in this item.  In which we suggested that this could be a DGiles avatar:


Or that based on his posted comments here and elsewhere, he might make this noted ‘pundit’ look like an amateur:


We stand by our words.  And frankly, having watched a video of the Brunswick Zoning Board of Appeals in which they voted to approve NNEPRA’s request for a variance, we can also tell you that DGIles’ reference to your correspondent as a lazy, fat, old white guy is a bit, shall we say, puzzling.  From what we saw, he’s in no position to spout such epithets.  Unless he was looking in his mirror.

Our real purpose tonight is to come back to two comments Giles has publicly posted, starting with this one about the MLF:

And the area off Pleasant and Bouchard has been used as an outdoor maintenance yard. For every one person opposed to this, there are 100 in support. The ones opposed are so radical and viscious (sic) that most people choose to remain quiet.”

As chance would have it, The Ostrich recently ran a poll on just that subject.  Almost from the start, the results ran counter to what the elites and DGiles might have expected and hoped for.  So the editors left the poll up for days and days, hoping results might turn around.

When they finally took it down, the results were as follows:

Should the Downeaster maintenance ad (sic) layover facility be built at the proposed location??

Yes:  39% (273 votes)

No:  61% (422 votes)

Total votes: 695

Contrast this with DGiles ‘100 to 1’ hypothesis.  If he is correct, then there should have been 100 x 422 votes supporting siting the MLF in the Bouchard neighborhood, or 42,200 votes in favor, compared to 422 votes opposed.

273 actual votes in favor compared to his hypothetical total of 42,200.  Yup; sounds like DGiles has his finger on the pulse of the community, or some other physical indicator of public sentiment.

We can’t help but comment here, while it’s unrelated to the MLF and DGiles, that we’d sure love to see The Ostrich run a poll on the BDC quarter million dollar grant to Brunswick Taxi.  How about this question: 

“Should Brunswick Taxi be required to pay back the $247,000, plus interest, to the Brunswick Development Corporation?”

We’d LOVE to see the vote outcome on that one!

Now our other point.

“The facts are what the facts are. This is the best location, it is properly zoned, does not require environmental sacrifices and is economically sound.”

DGiles is, in theory, an authoritative source on this issue, since as we reported in that earlier post, he is on the Zoning Board of Appeals that approved the variance.  Except he’s not.

The area has been zoned historically for buildings not exceeding 20,000 square feet.  In 2011, DGIles and the rest of the Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance to allow a structure of 39,560 square feet, as shown in the document we linked in the earlier post.

But there’s a little problem, big guy.  That variance never went into effect, because NNEPRA allowed the approval to expire.

So, to recall a phrase, ‘the facts are the facts,’ DGiles.   Oh, sure, you approved a variance from 20,000 sq ft max to 39,560 sq ft, but that no longer matters.

And now the building is at 50,000 sq ft plus.  Only 2.5 times the underlying zoning.

Properly zoned David?


We don’t think so.  Which is perfectly in keeping with the overall fragrance of this undertaking.


You  know what they say: the nose knows.

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1 comment:

  1. Let me be the first to pick up the gauntlet: If the Times Record ran a poll on the BDC Brunswick Taxi deal, I confidently predict it would be 100 to 1 AGAINST.