Penny wise?

Casco voters rejecting a bond to renovate the community center and Casco Memorial School shows how wariness to spend can be as damaging to a community as the grandiose plans for the Standish Community Center are.

In Casco, voters rejected spending $1.2 million (including interest) over 10 years to convert Casco Memorial School to town offices and restore a community center that would have space for adult exercise programs and summer activities for children.

Nowhere in the bond question or plans was there mention of a pool, spa or fitness center that backers of the Standish Community Center would like to see. The cost to repair and renovate the community center is estimated to be $750,000, as opposed to the $8.8 million cost of a proposed community center in Standish.

The expense is not negligible, but it is a far more reasonable approach to provide beneficial town services than the proposed Standish Community Center.

As said here two weeks ago, the benefits of a strong recreation department for a town’s residents are tangible. Exercise and educational programs bring residents together to meet while enhancing health and broadening horizons.

Those programs and events were eliminated or curtailed when mold and other problems rendered the community center, which was once Casco High School, unusable in 2006. Meanwhile, town offices were also moved and are not adequately fit into the current site behind the fire station on Route 121.

The rejection may reflect an attitude that Casco voters prefer minimal services and facilities. The attitude could be expensive because it will cost much more in the future to tear down or renovate the buildings that are sitting vacant.

Just do it

It seems as though the hearing process on Peter Busque’s proposed Windham quarry is taking longer than the time needed to form the rock he would mine.

Windham town councilors met until 11:30 p.m. Tuesday reviewing 17 criteria of Busque’s second application for the quarry he wants to mine on Nash Road near Route 302. They got through six.

Why it has taken more than four months for the council to act on Busque’s revised plan is inexplicable and inexcusable. By dedicating an hour or so in each meeting since April to discussing the effects of traffic, noise, dust and vibration the quarry would create, the Town Council does not appear to be a deliberative body.

It appears to be a vacillating group of micro-managers sending the unwelcome signals to any business that might consider Windham a new home. This appearance is enhanced by the fact that the Windham Planning Board has approved Busque’s plans because the land is zoned for that use.

Busque has reduced the size of the quarry, expanded the buffer zone around it, and now said he would blast only when foliage would provide a sound buffer. Those opposing the quarry like Margaret Pinchbeck and abutter Carl Russell have plainly expressed why the quarry would harm the quality of life in the area. The Cumberland County Superior Court has upheld the council’s right of review for the plan.

Now it is time for the Windham Town Council to decide.

David Harry, editor


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