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EDC Opens Dialogue with Landlords of Vacant Business Sites

by Bobby Blair
December 13, 2018

L to R -- Town Administrator Jeff Ritter, Matt Coletti & Peter Barbieri

Members of the Town's Economic Development Committee (EDC) met Wednesday morning and reviewed their defeated town meeting article which failed to garner the finance committee's support at recent town meeting. That article was intended to grant business owners grant monies to improve the looks of rundown properties. Had the article been approved by voters, special legislation would have to be requested from the state house. The finance committee cited a lack of information at town meeting time for its lack of support for the article. While the article didn't directly ask for taxpayers' monies, the EDC isn't against taxpayers voting to use their tax money. Chairman Peter Barbieri suggested funding the grant proposals from local donation by banks or others. Ben Sparrell who is the liaison to the EDC from the Fin/Com said that he believed his committee could support a new article, but stated "we (Fin/Com) don't want to be in the subsidizing business."

EDC member Matt Coletti announced that a three-man committee composed of himself, Town Administrator Jeff Ritter and Town Planner Karen Sherman had met with several property owners relative to the state of their business sites. Coletti stated that the EDC hopes to help business owners make use of their properties and didn't want to hurt feelings by mentioning the state the properties were in. The owner of the former Gulf Station (above) at 799 Washington Street in the town square told the trio that he hoped to reconstruct the gas station in the spring complete with gas pumps.

The owners of 429 Washington Street, Cumberland Farms said they had hoped to place a deli or mexican restaurant in the vacant store front adjacent to Country Farms, but septic issues precluded that use. That vacant space has been unused for a number of years once housed a video rental business which went the way of the milkman. Coletti said that while the owner expressed interest and was open to suggestions but, the feeling was that the EDC was slightly less than hopeful that the space would be filled soon.

 

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