In order to fully understand both sides, please read the Portsmouth Herald Article first then Sam Reid’s response.
KITTERY, Maine — Town Manager Kendra Amaral on Monday told the Town Council the Wood Island Life Saving Station Association would not be billed for town staff’s time spent discussing the project with members of the organization.
Councilor Jeffrey Thomson asked Amaral during the Oct. 11 council meeting to look into whether WILSSA would be billed for time town staff spends its reviewing plans.
Thomson said he was concerned because members of the nonprofit WILSSA and the councilors who voted in favor of the 2016 maintenance agreement said the project would be completed at no cost to Kittery. Thomson contends the town is losing money on the project because permit fees were waved for WILSSA in the contract. WILSSA plans to open a maritime museum in the station by the summer of 2019.
In response to Councilor Thomson’s public concerns, this letter was published in the Portsmouth Herald and provided to me.
Wood Island restoration unwelcome news to Council’s Thompson
Letter to the editor.
It is hard to understand why Kittery Town Council member Jeff Thompson has raised an issue regarding the cost of the Town Manager’s time with the restoration of Wood Island Life Saving Station during the past two Council meetings.
But it is part of a long-term pattern of opposition of some on Council to the restoration of this wonderful part of our heritage. Mr. Thompson and Ms. Judy Spiller have led the, thankfully, unsuccessful opposition from Town Council consistently voting against the Station’s restoration over a period of years.
Mr. Thompson has wondered why a project that is supposed to be “at no cost to the Town” has created some minor staff costs since the Town Manager needs to participate in decisions from time to time regarding a property that continues to be owned by the Town of Kittery. Mr. Thompson would like to send the Wood Island Life Saving Station Association (WILSSA), the charity restoring the property for the benefit of the people of Kittery, a bill for any part of the Manager’s time spent on Wood Island Station.
The contracts that govern the project, and were approved by Council, are entirely clear that WILSSA will pay for all capital improvements and maintenance of the historic building. To date that figure totals more than $1.2 million. The result is a wonderfully restored exterior of the Station that is now the pride of Kittery. WILSSA plans to fully restore the interior of the Station and open it to the public as a maritime museum, hopefully in the next few short years.
The contracts are also clear that Kittery will not create or pass along any new fees or costs regarding Wood Island to WILSSA. This too was approved by Town Council after extensive public and Council review and negotiation. Mr. Thompson and Ms. Spiller, however, voted against those contracts.
When any new business comes to Kittery, let’s hope that they receive a far warmer welcome from all of the members of Kittery Town Council than WILSSA has received from Mr. Thompson and Ms. Spiller. The results at Wood Island are celebrated and appreciated by so many in our community. WILSSA has created dozens of new jobs, the environment has been cleaned of tons of hazardous waste, and our heritage will be celebrated in the new maritime museum. That is an excellent result for the tax payers and visitors to Kittery alike. It is a shame that Mr. Thompson is so unwelcoming to this great news.
Kittery Point, Maine