Reflecting on yesterday’s meeting in Hartland

I was involved in a meeting yesterday at the middle school where citizens from Hartland, Palmyra and St. Albans got together with the RSU 19 administration and Dave Pelton, real estate developer for the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program (KVCAP). Two topics were up for discussion. First was getting everyone on the same page regarding funding and support for the Irving Tanning Community Center (ITCC) so use of and access to the building can continue. This is important for all three towns as many recreational programs for kids take place there.

Also discussed was what happens to the elementary school on Elm Street now that it has been closed. It needs a new roof on the older portion, must be heated whether used or not and RSU 19 would like someone to assume responsibility/ownership. Our town manager and the selectmen have worked very diligently along with a group of citizens to find a viable use. One possibility is for KVCAP to buy the property for a minimal amount and rehabilitate it so it could be used as senior housing. Should this happen, it would be a win-win for everyone. While everything is at a very early stage and there is no guarantee it will happen, Everyone at the meeting was heartened by the possibility. As things stand, however, much of the public money that funds building projects like the one envisioned here, comes through Maine State Housing and they’re focused on putting a significant portion of their money in projects in or near Portland. If elected, I hope to influence the flow so it’s more equitably allocated and Somerset County doesn’t get left behind. Actions like the one noted in today’s Bangor Daily News editorial certainly don’t help that goal.

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