Friday, April 10, 2015

Other Side Alert: Kool-Aid flooding inundates local communities; authorities delerious. Stains everywhere; clean up could be a sticky mess.

Judging from recent news reports, the Kool-Aid train is busy making stops all over the state.  Unfortunately, as best we can tell, it’s been leaking its load wherever it goes.  In the past months, stops have been made in Lewiston-Auburn, Augusta, Rockland, and Bangor.

Now we read that the Kool-Aid special has been to Waterville.  The article appears here.

WATERVILLE — City Councilor Sydney Mayhew says he will do everything in his power to see that passenger rail service returns to Waterville.

It may take several years for a study to be done, approvals granted, funding secured and rail service established, but Mayhew, who represents Ward 4 wants to start the ball rolling now.

        Waterville City Council Chairman Fred Stubbert stands on railroad track where the passenger railroad station used to be in Waterville along Colby Street on Thursday. The City Council will discuss a resolution to restore passenger service.

Waterville City Council Chairman Fred Stubbert stands on railroad track where the passenger railroad station used to be in Waterville along Colby Street on Thursday. The City Council will discuss a resolution to restore passenger service.

He drafted a resolution declaring the city’s intent to explore the benefits of passenger rail service and will seek the endorsement of fellow councilors at Tuesday night’s council meeting. Augusta councilors approved a similar resolution in December.

“I think it would be beneficial for Waterville to show its hand on this issue and participate in an obvious economic development opportunity,” he said. “We know what passenger rail service can do from studies of when it went from Portland to Brunswick. It has promoted, really, economic vitality in that area. The city of Brunswick is reaping the benefits. Just imagine what it’d be like for Waterville residents or residents of Waterville, Winslow, Fairfield and Oakland to see a Boston Bruins or Celtics game, or for a family to go to visit Boston. Plus, it would be an attraction to the college sites here in Waterville.”

What astounds us is that Waterville officials appear to know more about the ‘economic vitality benefits’ Brunswick is reaping than those of us here in Brunswick know.  We continue to relate that Brunswick officials (and unofficials) have steadfastly dug in their heels when it comes to offering up credible, objective proof of such gains. 

All the anecdotal evidence we have in hand suggests just the opposite is true; Brunswick is shipping out the economic stimulus of numerous residents to shower upon points further south.  We’ve reported on some of that, and will do more on the subject soon.  You know as well that we’ve solicited inputs from the community on the subject, to which there has been “sparse” response so far, where sparse is a very small number approaching zero.

Now the same paper has waxed editorially on the subject, apparently having had the Kool-Aid flood reach their offices:

THUMBS UP to the Waterville City Council for approving unanimously a resolution to explore the benefits of bringing passenger rail service back to the city.

The resolution, similar to one passed by Augusta councilors late last year, is one small step in the effort to return rail service to the region, a process that will include many steps and take years, if not decades, to complete. The line would first have to be extended from Portland to the Lewiston-Auburn area before continuing north through Augusta and Waterville, and possibly along to Montreal eventually.

The road may be long, but the economic and environmental benefit could be enormous. Rail service would take cars off the road, cutting down on carbon emissions as well as wear and tear on the roads. As Brunswick and other areas have shown, rail service can spur significant business development, particularly around stations.

A number of bills are before the Legislature now that could help make expanded passenger rail service a reality, including a promising idea that would allow communities along a rail line to work together to capture taxes created by rail development in order to maximize economic returns.

Those bills should get support this year, but it also is important that the communities along the projected rail line, including Augusta and Waterville, strongly state their interest in developing the service.

So the economic and environmental benefit could be ‘enormous.’  They must use a different dictionary up there than we do down here.  And they again know more about ‘business development’ around stations than we do in our little close to the vest community.  Capturing taxes; maximizing economic returns.  How can anyone turn that down?

We doubt you noticed the words above that throw the entire issue of Downeaster Maintenance and Layover Facility location in Brunswick into question.

NNEPRA has repeatedly insisted that the MLF belongs at ‘the end of the line.’  The consequences of the service expansions suggested above are that the ‘end of the line’ would be in Waterville, or sacre bleu, in Montreal!

On the other hand, why not build $20 million layover facilities at the end of every spur?  We think Waterville deserves the honor of a monstrous industrial facility at least as much as Brunswick does, and we hope they have an in-town neighborhood ready to welcome one.


Refills anyone?

It’s Friday afternoon you know, the impetus for the original happy hour.

We’re just wondering how the Kool-Aid bars will be able to stay in business if the happy-hour has to last for years and years.  Maybe they’ll be able to get state and federal subsidies for keeping drivers off the streets.

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