2016-08-04 / Letters

Saco mayor addresses Unit 91 in letter to the editor

To the editor:

I would like to clarify some misconceptions in a recent article (“Saco Isle. property under scrutiny”) relating to Saco Island and the city’s ownership interest in what is referred to as Unit 91.

The article states that “the property . . . was seized by the city on Jan. 11, 2016,” which inaccurately suggests that the city took some adverse action to obtain ownership. This is, in fact, untrue; the property reverted to city ownership as a result of overdue property taxes. In other words, the previous property owners failed to pay their share of community cost.

After a property’s foreclosure, standard practice for the city council is to request recommendation from the planning board prior to deciding a property’s fate. In this case, many life safety issues had to be resolved before this process was to start. And while all comments had not been received from all departments prior to the planning board meeting, the requisite comments will be made available for review before the issue appears in front of council for final decision.

As the Courier article notes, the money the city has had to invest in the Unit 91 project are a direct result of the neglect exhibited by the prior owners in maintaining the site. The property repairs that were made by the city were critical to the health and safety of the individuals accessing this level of the island. Saco Island is a critical part of our downtown and we cannot stand by idly as it deteriorates because of the inadequate investment of its prior owners.

The city of Saco does not pay charges without adequate documentation of previously claimed expenses. To act otherwise would be a clear failure of our fiduciary responsibility. The same parties making these payment demands are those who failed to pay their taxes in a timely manner and failed to invest in property upkeep, which resulted in the transfer of these costs to Saco taxpayers.

We entered the property market on Saco Island not because the city wanted to compete with the private sector, but because the original property owners failed in providing the necessary maintenance of Unit 91. Developing Saco Island into the economic engine of our downtown has been a challenge for the past 30 years. Through the many ups and downs, we have and will continue to work towards achieving its true potential. Taxpayers can rest assured that the funds we are expending at the moment on Unit 91 will be more than recouped when the property is sold to a developer who not only has creative ideas about how to best use the property, but can also demonstrate that they have the necessary experience and financial capacity to carry these plans to fruition.

Roland Michaud, mayor Saco

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