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THE CONWAY DAILY SUN, Tuesday, February 7, 2012— Page 7

Tele-Talk

How important do you think downtown improvements are in Fryeburg, and what ideas do you have for paying for them? There were 32 responses to this week’s Tele-Talk question: “How important do you think downtown improvements are in Fryeburg, and what ideas do you have for paying for them?” I think the town of Fryeburg should concentrate on fi nding some kind of employment for the people in the area and not worry about how downtown looks. We’ve got to keep the people and the taxes in the state of Maine. Give employers a break so they’ll stay in Fryeburg so people won’t have to cross over into New Hampshire for their work. I think that the improvements to downtown Fryeburg are very much needed. I don’t think it should be called a slum or a blight. However, I’m not sure how to pay for it but I hope that they do get it done. First off, I think the people that want to do all these improvements, let them pay for it. I always get the biggest kick out of these people who say it’s not going to cost us anything; it’s just the taxpayers’ dollars. You know, I’m sorry, that’s my money and your money. And also, if you want to take a look at what this great money has done for these small villages, drive through Chocorua Village in New Hampshire and look how we wasted a million dollars. We were told we were going to get a park and it ended up a sediment pond and it ruined our village. Just take a look sometime. I think Fryeburg defi nitely needs to take a look at their downtown. They’ve got dilapidated buildings; they have a lot of vacant lots, vacant businesses, the sidewalks are horrible. And one of the first things you see is that horrible house on Portland Street that has all that trash piled to the roof of all the buildings. It has that giant horrible dumpster in the front yard, they’ve put an outside fence to block more trash units. It’s horrible. I think the people of Fryeburg need to take a closer look at their town; they need to do something about it. I think the people of Fryeburg should be embarrassed for not approving a beautifi cation grant. And I think the reason they voted it down is they are too prideful to admit that their town center has been neglected and other than a few good restaurants it’s not really a good place to go anymore. So, I just don’t understand how they could turn away that money. This is Chuck, a Fryeburg taxpayer. I do not fi nd any downtown improvements are necessary and certainly, a bike path, a few plants and a sidewalk patch does not qualify as fi xing it up. It does nothing to fi x the buildings. This was voted down by the Fryeburg citizens. It is a dead issue. Unlike the Conways —where no doesn’t mean no, it means we’ll try again — this should be considered a dead issue — somebody’s fantasy. I think it’s well just the way it is. People have spent a lot of money to get it where it is now. And as it goes it’s getting better and better. If you’re looking for slums there are other places in town. This is Karen from Fryeburg. I think it’s a very important thing about the downtown improvements, but the only improvement I would like to see is different street lighting — doing away with those glaring orange ones and replacing them blueish LED illumina-

tion. As far as the funding, I don’t know where it would come from. As far as the Fryeburg improvement, take the old NAPA building and make it into a town park and the building next to it, use it for an information center and flea market. I’m calling from North Conway and I read about Fryeburg turning down that grant application. North Conway got a lot of grant money, I don’t know why Fryeburg doesn’t get grant money too; they need it. I live in North Conway but I drive through Fryeburg and I think it looks pretty grungy. I think it was a big mistake to turn down that $150,000. Fryeburg is a nice town the way it is, which is why folks have moved there. Why would you want to make it look like the slum of Conway? They used to have a beautiful town here in Conway, but they’ve ruined it by putting in all the curbs and sidewalks so we can trip over them in the dark. They have made our streets narrow when there used to be wide ones. They’ve added the NorthSouth Alley which is a disgrace. We have many, many friends who won’t even visit us here in North Conway anymore because it is a slum, so why would you want to do this to beautiful Fryeburg? Why do we let the federal government take our money and then have them give it back to us with restrictions? We are dumb to let them take it in the fi rst place. And why would you want to lie to get the money back? What are we teaching our children? Lying is OK to get something? Many people are talking about a revolution so we won’t have to be concerned about our town leaders dying and our federal leaders doing the same. It’s sad because we always end up with a war because we never learn from the Bible or history. Don’t make beautiful Fryeburg a slum. I can’t believe they turned that money down; it’s just insane. The only reason to go to Fryeburg is for the fair and the restaurants. It’s small-minded, small town pride if you ask me. This is Dave in Fryeburg. I feel that the improvements they’d like to do to the downtown right now are not very important. The area does not have the money to pay for these improvements and these improvements and the proposed improvements will take away parking spaces that are desperately needed for the businesses that are already operating — that’s one of the biggest handicaps to that area is lack of parking. While the green space they’re proposing would look very nice it’s also going to cost a lot of money to maintain that in summertime with mowing and keeping the grass, etc. And it’s also going to be a hindrance in the winter time to snow removal. I think they should leave the Main Street and the businesses the way it is and appreciate the businesses that are there, because if you look at what businesses have moved around town in the last few years, most of the businesses that have relocated outside the center of town have gone to the outskirts of town where they have much better parking. Fryeburg? I never heard of it. Where is it? I think that the town of Fryeburg, Maine should write a nice letter to The Conway Daily Sun to thank them

for alerting the citizens of Fryeburg to just exactly what was being planned. To have to commit fraud to get some of your own money back in the form of a grant makes absolutely no sense, especially in economic times like we are having. Let the citizens keep up their own property and the town repair sidewalks as they are able to. Any money that Washington, D.C. has for these purposes should be used to lower the scary national debt. Although I am not a native here, I have lived in the Valley for a very long time. A number of years ago, Lewiston Maine beautifi ed Lisbon Street with wider sidewalks and very little parking and it killed the downtown. People did not want to park a block away and walk downtown. You will see it is practically a ghost town. The parking spaces in Fryeburg, would have been reduced from 20-something to 13 parallel parking spaces with no other parking lot even suggested. It would certainly have put some of the businesses out of business. Where did North Conway get the $170,000 for sidewalks and improvements? Did they have to declare that area as a slum district? Just wondering. I think the most important thing that Fryeburg can do for its downtown improvements is to purchase the vacant lot that once had the vacant lot that once had the NAPA building at the intersection in Fryeburg and turn that into green space. I think that should be done quickly before a chain like Dunkin’ Donuts ends up in that space. It’s a beautiful view of the intervale and that opportunity should not be missed. I think if the town is not going to support applying for a grant to clean up the downtown, they should look at a private funding campaign, perhaps with people sponsoring a square for the concrete sidewalk and higher levels of donation for granite curbing, street lighting, etc. Rachel Damon Andrews, who I know spoke out forcefully against the grant, I would nominate her to lead a private fund-raising effort, because event though she spoke out against the grant, she clearly had a good vision of what the town used to be like and she seemed to be passionate about wanting to see it transformed. So, I would nominate Rachel to lead a private fund-raising effort and I think there are a lot of people — myself among them — who would be willing to help her do that. I think she would be great. This is Kimberly Clarke from Fryeburg. The reason it’s called Fryeburg is because the only thing to do on Friday nights is go out and get fried. This is from Rick Eastman, selectman and member of the planning group. The focus of the group from the start was to look at what infrastructure changes could be made in the downtown area to better enhance business opportunity and hopefully get more people to stop on their way through town and visit, shop, eat and generally enjoy the area we call home. I see the federal and state governments not spending money to fi x and repair their infrastructure until it is too late and very expensive. We felt that it was time to start and repair areas that were identifi ed as problems as far as safety, drainage, sidewalks and gen-

eral improvements to coincide with the state rebuild of Route 302 in the next two years. We have been two years so far into this process. Next the selectmen and town manager sought out funding sources. Most grants we looked at had matching fund attached to them, in most cases, a 25 percent match which we felt the town could not afford at this time. The grant that we looked at thru the state was a grant provided by the federal government that would provide $150,000 for a well-defi ned area within our downtown. The unfortunate thing was what the grant was called, “Slum and Blight.” This was a name that no one was too excited about. Our hope was that people could get beyond the name and look at what we would gain in this project at basically no cost to the town. That was not the case, which is too bad, but we do understand. I just hope that this fi rst road block does not stop the forward motion and good ideas that have come from this effort so far. I applaud the group for their time and effort. I also want to thank the people who came out on that stormy night and voiced their opinion. I also hope that as we move forward, these same people take time and bring forward more ideas as to how we can make this work for our community. I chaired both the Fryeburg Planning Board and Fryeburg Comprehensive Planning activities when Fryeburg last adopted the basic documents. I don’t recall ever having seen or heard anyone mention that there were issues with our downtown other than the observation that the buildings there lacked parking. Therefor the documents are silent on the subject. In order to compensate for the fact that the existing buildings in the downtown lacked parking, the ordinance that passed established a “village commercial” zone or district. Two of the features of this district or zone are to grandfathered zero-lotline setbacks and do not require off street parking. The hope, at the time, was that the existing buildings would be used by enterprises that didn’t require a lot of parking. It seemed, at the time, to be the only way to save our downtown since contemporary retail has both the need for lots of inventory space and parking and has to compete with tax-free retail in nearby New Hampshire. Both the plan and the ordinances that followed seem to have worked. This last issue, of the grant request, seems to have been driven by the availability of funding rather than real need. The town vote was heartening in that only the advocates seemed willing to compromise the principle, calling it something it wasn’t, in order to get hold of other people’s money. Fortunately, in my opinion, they were outnumbered two-to-one. The Fryeburg public works efforts have repaired village sidewalks and village roads, but to my knowledge have never proposed doing so on Main Street or had voters turn them down on real needs. Why was spending allocated elsewhere if Main Street needed so much attention? H. Ted Raymond, Fryeburg resident. see TELE-TALK page 8

The Conway Daily Sun, Tuesday, February 7, 2012  

The Conway Daily Sun, Tuesday, February 7, 2012

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