June 21, 2018
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Millinocket a town under siege

By Alyce Maragus, Special to the BDN

I read with interest, two recent Op-Ed columns in the Bangor Daily News. One was written by John Davis, Millinocket’s town council chairman; the other written by Marsha Donahue and R. Wayne Curlew. Both articles had to do with the proposal by Roxanne Quimby to establish a national park in our northern woods and within 50 miles proximity of our town.

This would almost negate any chance of a sale of our paper mills and the possibility of putting our local people back to work.

Though both articles — one pro and one con — tried to get their opinion across to the general public, maybe without even realizing, this subject has merely divided our town and added more controversy.

John Davis defended the council’s decision to pass a resolve “not in favor” of a park or a feasibility study. Our council has done quite a bit of research as to the benefits of the proposed park and to the negative aspects of the project. In the end, the majority of the council members voted their conscience in that the negative aspects outweighed any positive benefits.

A national park would take control of our woods away from the state of Maine and place it in the hands of the federal government and Mainers would lose their cherished right to enjoy those woods. The woods would then have restrictions on hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, ATV trails and much of the other outdoor activities now enjoyed not only by Maine citizens but also our visitors who wish to “get back to nature” without the restrictions a national park would incur.

Masha Donahue and Wayne Curlew are relatively new to our town and own an art gallery where her paintings sell for $1,000 or more. Millinocket residents are not in a position to make her particular business a paying proposition, so naturally she is trying to expand her clientele. She complains of a three-minute opportunity for public comments at the council meeting. Maybe she should go back a few years when a previous council member put through an order for no public comments. Our councilors amended that order in order to allow our citizens to express their opinions (even if restricted to three minutes).

She also laments the council’s decision to possibly restrict funding to the Katahdin Region Chamber of Commerce and her organization, The Downtown Revitalization Committee.

The Chamber of Commerce, at one time was known as the Millinocket Chamber, however the powers in charge at the time decided to change the name to the Katahdin Regional Chamber of Commerce. All well and good, however as of now Millinocket is the only town supporting it even though it promotes affairs in East Millinocket and Medway and heavily advertises businesses in unorganized territories. Why then do the taxpayers of Millinocket have to pay for this, especially when many of the few businesses we have have withdrawn their support of the Chamber?

The Downtown Revitalization Committee only receives a stipend from the town but one look at our downtown area will tell you there has been no revitalization and in fact we have lost businesses. I have tried to access a list of members and the dues that they pay, with no success. Again, should Millinocket taxpayers have to continue to support this?

Now this may sound like sour grapes, but if these people who moved to Millinocket because it is a quaint, lovely and friendly town are now unhappy that they cannot change our traditional way of life, perhaps they should make the decision to either except our way of life or move on to greener pastures elsewhere.

Alyce Maragus is a founder of the Millinocket Community Action Committee.

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