During 2001-2005 the Standish councils seated at the time started to liquidate taxpayers’ property to start a fund for a community center that was unknown to most taxpayers.

An ad hoc committee was appointed to study the needs of the town for a community center. This committee took on a life of its own and seemed to take on authority no other committee had ever had and began wheeling and dealing.

Our charter calls for any proposed use of General Funds over $75,000 to go to referendum. The council-approved contracts are executed by the town manager. No committee has spending powers. There was a search for a site to build the center and negotiation to purchase property. The best site was 10 acres adjacent to the town hall. The committee tried to steal the property with a very low offer and the owner became offended and would not consider anything thereafter.

Other sites were considered, one was Kiwanis club property near Watchic Lake but the committee did not find that suitable. The current purchased site on Moody Road was hastily selected without very much investigation, which now is felt to be unsuitable for the purpose for lack of investigation prior to the purchase.

At this time it looks like the committee has spent about $425,000 of taxpayers’ money with maybe $225,000 recoverable. They also have taken on the attitude when the Army Engineers made the determination that about one-third of the property was unusable and the committee should be able to reverse the decision.

There have been several meager attempts to have surveys sent to selected people to justify the center. The only one I am familiar with is the one the Comprehensive Plan Committee sent out which indicated very little interest in the center.

Standish has about 7,000 registered voters and there are some 4,300 tax bills in town. It would seem to me that the owners of these tax bills would not have bought their property if they thought the town needed all the items currently being discussed. Council currently has under consideration; $10 million community center, a bypass on Route 25, sidewalks, village design, park/gazebo, library and a beach. All this is being considered without any budgets or approval by the taxpayers. Grants are being considered for some of the expense. But the trouble with grants is they allow immediate gratification, but the hooker is that the taxpayer will be paying for them forever. So, where is all this money coming from? Taxes are doubled about every seven years and maybe it is thought taxpayers would like them to double every three or four years.

There is a major problem with government spending; all taxpayers pay when a very small percentage have advantage of the expenditure. A possible solution to these problems would be to have proposals put on referendum ballots and if they are not passed by a 55 percent margin of registered voters they should fail. This would make interested parties get out and speak with voters to get them to vote. This would stop all these expenditures being passed by minimal votes. Would it not be better if 4,000 votes passed a proposal than a vote of several hundred? More votes the better for the outcome, to be a benefit to all taxpayers.

It is apparent the Community Center Committee is in over its heads and should be shut down. Put the question on the June ballot and let the taxpayers decide. This should have been done before the first dollar was spent.

William Orr


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