letter to the editor

Please vote yes April 17

Posted:  Monday, April 2, 2018 - 5:30pm

Dear Editor:

As founder and CEO of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (retired), I spent 35 years in Wiscasset mostly on Water Street in the Haggett Garage, our former headquarters. Since July 2016 I’ve been helping Wiscasset small businesses save their village parking — and the Haggett Garage — from demolition.

On April 17, I urge Wiscasset citizens to vote yes to keep up the town’s lawsuit against the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT). Here are five reasons:

First, let the court decide! It won’t cost Wiscasset taxpayers a dime. Citizens and businesses have stepped up to pay legal expenses. An escrow agreement is in the hands of the town and its lawyers at Plumb & Murray. Taxpayers are not at risk!

Second, a lot is at stake for municipalities. The suit cites an MDOT Nov. 14, 2017 instruction to contract bidders: Please DO NOT apply for any local permits. Does MDOT have the authority to circumvent Wiscasset’s historic and construction codes?

Third, MDOT has made key changes in the plan with without citizen participation — voters rejected the plan in a June 13, 2017 referendum — an obligation under Maine’s 1991 Sensible Transportation Act.

Fourth, MDOT has ducked the plan’s adverse impact on small businesses. National studies show on-street parking space yields $25,000 per space. That’s a whopping $1,350,000 annually in lost revenue based on 54 parking places MDOT will eliminate.

Fifth, at a cost of $5 million of Maine taxpayer dollars, MDOT’s plan won’t work. MDOT’s engineering report itself concludes traffic flow will only marginally improve, and not for long. Wait time may be reduced 15 seconds, at most. At one public hearing an MDOT engineer confessed traffic would still back up — two rather than perhaps three miles.

Recently, Gov. Paul LePage has taken a personal interest in the project. As the facts emerge we hope the governor — and Commissioner David Bernhardt — will revisit the project. There are better solutions as Citizens for Sensible Solutions has put forth.

The people of Maine value MDOT, its workers, employees, contractors. The agency is very important. There are sensible solutions. Please vote yes on April 17.

Ron Phillips