From the Assistant Editor

A planning crossroad, and a Saturday surprise

Posted:  Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 7:00am

Wiscasset’s had some good planners, and Ben Averill is one of them. It’s not easy making lemonade of the proprietary and environmental issues on the Mason Station peninsula, but he has been grinding away and I don’t know how anyone could have tried harder than he has on several fronts, there, and elsewhere in town.

In saying no last week to the planning budget that pays him, Wiscasset may have determined the level of success wasn’t high enough to warrant keeping the position; or it may just have been looking to save money where it could. Maybe something finally had to give due to taxes; and planning, which has had close calls in recent years, was it.

We’ll see where it goes from here: Will selectmen go back to voters like they did in successfully saving Sue Varney’s assessor’s agent job a few years ago with a special town meeting? Or will town staff and volunteer panels absorb the work? The Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission does a lot to help towns and I am sure it would continue to do all it can in a post-planner Wiscasset.

Whatever the future of planning is in town, and whether or not Averill remains a part of it, let’s respect the vote, and thank Averill for his consistent professionalism as he has worked with businesses and proposed businesses, town panels and others. Anyone can steer in the calm and take credit for the sun. Averill has worked in some uneasy waters and kept things on a more even keel than they might have been without him.

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On Saturday, hours after reported on the loss of hoped-for grants to help clean up the Mason Station peninsula, the website reported on something else that appeared like a glimmer of sunlight poking through the day’s gray sky: Dresden decided on Wiscasset for ambulance service.

No town takes that service lightly, as getting help, at the right level and in time, is crucial. Our coverage showed costs were one consideration. But Dresden is full of smart people and wouldn’t have voted as it did if it wasn’t comfortable with the service Wiscasset would give. Thanks, Toby Martin and Wiscasset Ambulance Service, for continued efforts like this one, to make the department as viable as possible. And thanks, Dresden, for the show of confidence in Wiscasset.