ISLAND FALLS, Maine — About 75 residents narrowly defeated three articles dealing with the sale and use of town-owned land during a special town meeting on Aug. 22.
The special town meeting, which was called for by resident Toby Lougee and not the town’s Board of Selectmen, was funded with private money. It was held at the VFW Hall with former state representative Henry Joy elected to serve as moderator.
“The three articles would have changed the way town land is being sold,” Lougee said. “Since the town meeting last March, where a small group of voters gave selectmen authority to sell these parcels, land has been sold by a private realtor. Executive sessions have been used for these sales.”
Lougee said publicly owned land in most every community in Maine is sold by a sealed-bid process.
“In my opinion, the rights of the people to know what is going on and to have a voice does not exist in Island Falls,” he said.
During the special meeting, an article that sought to stop the sale of all town-owned real estate until an ordinance could be put into effect to regulate the sales failed by a vote of 37-35.
Another to declare a moratorium on the sale of town-owned property by means other than a sealed bid process failed 40-34.
And a third to require any public funds spent for the building of wood harvesting roads on town property to be approved by a vote of the townspeople after a public hearing also failed by a vote of 40-34.
Town Manager Dave Dionne did not attend the meeting since the Board of Selectmen did not call for it. He added that those selectmen that did attend went as members of the public and not as representatives of the town.
Lougee said, in his opinion, the town manager should have been in attendance to address public concerns.
“Our town operates under a town manager form of government,” he said.
“The manager runs all administrative functions of the town. I would hope that a manager from some other town, or a retired manager would have some input for us. The town, in my opinion, is in self-destruct mode.”