South Portland is moving too quickly without a plan to purchase the National Guard Armory at the expense of a good non-profit organization that would like to buy it.

The city could obviously make use of the building. It could also get stuck with the cost of installing plumbing, heating and electricity. Visitors have to travel no farther than the front stairs to see that this building is crumbling.

It’s unclear how much it would cost to renovate the building. It could be in the neighborhood of $3 million, according to attorney Richard Shinay, who was representing RBA South Portland LLC on behalf of the Children’s Theater of Maine.

Although residents turned out to a recent public hearing to support purchasing the building, the city doesn’t have any specific plans for the building. It’s been less than a year since voters rejected a $4.8 million bond package that would have allowed the city to buy the DuraStone property to use it as home for the Public Works, Parks, Transportation and Waterfront departments.

The city, of course, doesn’t have to do anything with the building right now, as City Manager Jeff Jordan has suggested. The city could use it for storage, until it has a better use for it.

“The city will continue to grow. We’re trying to think 30 to 40 years out,” Jordan said for a story that appeared on the front page of the Current last week.

However, it would seem unfortunate for the building to continue sitting idle when a good non-profit organization is willing to buy it, renovate it and put it to good use immediately.

The Children’s Theater of Maine would be a great resource to have in the community. Although the city could lease the building to them, the city would need to renovate it first. It would seem unlikely that the Children’s Theater of Maine would put any money into the building if the organization doesn’t own it.

Councilors are expected to vote on purchasing the building at a special council meeting Monday at 5 p.m. at City Hall. Residents who feel strongly about whether the city should purchase the Armory should contact their city councilors.

Preserving Pine Point

Building a new pier for commercial fishermen at Pine Point would be a good way for Scarborough to preserve its local fishing industry.

Pine Point is one of the many small communities in Scarborough that add to the town’s character, and the commercial fishermen that work out of there are an integral part of it.

The pier the fishermen have now is inadequate for commercial fishing. Pine Point fishermen have a short window of time to back trucks down at low tide and load things onto the float. If they miss that window, they have to load up a dingy and row out to their boat. If that’s not enough, they have to row back and pick up some more.

The new pier would cost $900,000. The town is hoping, however, all of that won’t come out of the pockets of local taxpayers. Local support could help the town leverage about half of the cost of the pier.

That’s why Town Manager Ron Owens has included it in his budget, to see if town councilors will support it as an indication of local support. Residents who have strong feelings about the local commercial fishing industry or how their tax dollars are being spent should contact town councilors to let them know how they feel.

Brendan Moran, editor

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