Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Two more points from last night’s council meeting

We typed our report on the meeting late last night when we got home, so we were remiss in telling you all that might interest you.  In some respects, the meeting looked like this:


So here we are to catch up.


On the discussion about The McLellan, after hearing about the current financials of the ‘project,’ someone in the public, as we recall, brought up a heating system concern.  While we couldn’t quite discern what was going on, Councilor Perreault added to our interest in this issue when he suggested something to the effect that ‘had we known about the problem sooner, we might have done something about it.’  ‘But it’s too late now, so we’ll just have to live with it.’

If we’re citing his remarks in error, he’s free to submit a correction.

We received an input from one of our sources a few months ago referring to some sort of lurking, very expensive situation regarding the building’s central heating plant.  The implication was that the annual heating bills could be in the range of $100,000.  We did a bit of looking into things, including a visit to the building, and could find nothing definite to report to you.  We worried, of course, that Bowdoin’s use of the third floor rent free for ten years does not require them to pay for heating and air conditioning their space.


The nature and tone of the discussion on the subject last night, limited as it was, makes us concerned that this is not a trivial issue, and may in fact be a substantial and ‘unexpected’ operating cost of our shiny new palace.  One that just won’t go away, and will be cited for years and years as ‘costs beyond our control.’

Gary Brown may be gone, but it could be a very long time before his stamp on things is forgotten.  Fortunately, we could end up with his good friend Don Gerrish helping us find and select his successor.

The other item of note was a comment by Councilor Millett referring to a constituent complaint about the idling of the Amtrak Downeaster train set in the Cedar Street residential neighborhood in town, nearby the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Food Bank.

Millett contacted NNEPRA and spoke to Patricia Quinn, the Executive Director, who told her the decision on where to park the train set was ‘up to the operator.’  In other words, according to Quinn, it’s not her fault or that of NNEPRA.  The same councilor said she had received another complaint on the same subject, and would be contacting NNEPRA and Quinn yet again.


If the Councilor believes we got this wrong, she is welcome to come to us with a correction backed up by the recorded version of the meeting. 

Since we know some folks who are very familiar with Amtrak operations here in town, we contacted them about Millett’s report.  Here’s the response we got:

The train parks at Cedar Street because NNEPRA  has located a maintenance box trailer in the State-owned lot that has more parking.  The lot is maintained at least in part by Maine Eastern, is a parking area for vans, and is kept plowed by who?  This lot is closer to Maine Street Station with fewer switches and crossings than at Brunswick West (between Church Road and Stanwood), where both have been problematic and involved operating and maintenance issues as well as railroad company disputes over who should provide these important winter maintenance functions.

Our source on this owns property adjacent to the tracks, and added this:

FYI, train crew workers have been using my driveway to transport crews to work on rail/switch ice problems down across from my office. I haven't yet had a chance to tell them to use their own land. Suspect it isn't plowed as close to problem track area as the end of my driveway.

You can form your own conclusions, but as for us, we think there’s a lot more to this than ‘operator choice.’

In the mean time, we suggest you start watching for stray white elephants around town getting in your way as you navigate our infrastructure.  We’re beginning to think said white elephant might be the perfect mascot for our town.


Think about it: 28 Federal Street; the old TR Building; Jordan Acres School; The McLellan; the schools on Columbia Avenue; the Old High School; and we’re sure, other once prized assets we simply forgot.

Keeping with our theory about always looking on the bright side, we’re thinking we may come up with a plan to start Wicked Poppycock’s Peanut Roasting Fiasco and Taxi Company.  This should allow us to capitalize on the growing demand for high end legumes.

Assuming, that is, that we can get the BDC to give us a fully excusable handout of a half million or so.  And that we can find a ready source for fair-traded, all natural, organic, sustainably cultivated, non-GMO and diverse strains of peanuts.

1 comment:

  1. The McClellan building was Bowdoin's white elephant and they are glad to pass it off to Brunswick in exchange for a building that had much less wrong with it (Longfellow School). The money spent by the town to renovate the McClelland building is going to be far less than that to have fixed the Longfellow school to adapt it for town use. Also the property that the town vacated on Federal St. could have paid for it without any money being spent.

    To whit, the town got screwed by Bowdoin and the developers who bought the old town offices and the town elders made another batch of friends with the taxpayers money. Hurray for us!