HAMPDEN, Maine — After another round of discussion, town councilors voted 3-2 to accept an antique map of Penobscot County donated by one of its members and committed to preserving it and investigating the best method for doing so.
How that work will be funded, however, was not decided during a Town Council meeting Monday night. Last month, proposals to use town dollars, private dollars or a combination of the two were discussed.
At the end of last month’s discussion, a majority of town councilors opted not to spend the roughly $1,000 to $1,500 it would cost to mount and display an 1859 map of Penobscot County that Councilor William Shakespeare donated to the town two years ago with the expectation that it would be preserved and mounted in a display case at the municipal building.
When that did not happen two years after the donation, Shakespeare recently decided to take the map back home, he said earlier.
The map was back in the building and on the agenda Monday night when councilors revisited the issue. Before they did, however, Shakespeare led them on a “tour” of 1859 Hampden, pointing out major landmarks, including travel routes, churches and schools.
“[The map] has every town [in Penobscot County] on it, and it also has every residence, the main owner of that residence on that map in the community,” Shakespeare said.
While some town councilors and residents liked the idea of displaying the 6-by-9-foot map, there was little support for using tax dollars to do so.
Resident Rich Armstrong said he considered the map a local treasure.
“I would love to see if it could be somewhat restored,” he said. He noted there is another copy at the Hampden Historical Society but added, “This is where people show up.”
Edward Armstrong and Councilor Thomas Brann both said the University of Maine might have the expertise needed to assess, and possibly restore, damaged parts of the map.
“I think it’s a positive thing for the town to have this,” Armstrong said. He did not think town tax money should be put toward the map but advocated for private funding so people could choose whether or not to donate.
“I think everybody should have a piece of that,” he said. “Let people own it. Then we could put a plaque underneath it [saying], ‘Donated by Bill Shakespeare and preserved by the people of Hampden’ or whatever it is.”
Resident Alex King was not that impressed with the map and thought the matter needed more discussion.
“I have an 1802 first survey map of Hampden,” King said. He has seen another dating back to 1820. “If you want Penobscot County, OK. If you want the town of Hampden, I think there are other maps that are more historic.”
Jeremy Jones, also a resident, suggested partnering with a nonprofit, such as the historical society, to raise money for the map’s restoration. He said there “is no need to burden taxpayers.”
Resident Terry McAvoy said the debate that the map gift has generated points to the need for some donation ground rules.
“You need to come up with a policy that says who and what and under what circumstances you are going to display [donated items] anywhere inside or around the town property, in this building, in the rights of way,” he said.
“Take up donations, get it restored, get [the map] framed, but don’t put it on that wall until you come up with a policy that says what else can we and can we not put up there and why.”