LUBEC, Maine — Maine Coast Heritage Trust last week presented the town with a $15,000 grant to upgrade its emergency communication equipment.
Bill Daye, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and representatives of MCHT have been meeting for the past year to discuss ways that the trust could contribute to the town in lieu of taxes.
“We have been talking to them about the taxes they pay because they pay on open space which is minimal,” Town Administrator Maureen Glidden said Thursday. Glidden said she did not know how many acres MCHT had in Lubec, but said it was a lot.
After several discussions, she said, MCHT agreed to give the town a grant to update communication equipment it uses to tone out its fire department. Additional money for the project was obtained from Rural Development.
The town is required to update its equipment because of a change in Federal Communication Commission regulations that takes effect January 2011.
But the equipment also needed to be updated because it is ancient.
Right now the town is connected to its dispatchers — the Regional Communication Center in Machias — by telephone lines.
If the telephone equipment goes down — something that happens often Down East — the town can’t tone out its firefighters.
“So, on two instances I had to come into the town office and sit and monitor the RCC [over the scanner]. If there had been a problem — a fire or accident or whatever — then I would have had to tone out the firefighters [myself]. One time that happened at 3 o’clock in the morning,” Glidden said.
To fix the problem, the town is installing antennas and upgrading its equipment thanks to the money it received from MCHT and Rural Development.
Having the grant also means that town officials will not have to pass the cost of the new equipment on to taxpayers.
Glidden said the town also has been talking with the Quoddy Regional Land Trust in Whiting which also pays minimal taxes on land it has in the town, but has not yet heard back from them.