EPIP and Downtown RevitalizationNovember 29, 2007 - TRCThe EPIP and Downtown Revitalization Meeting on November 28 was ever so interesting and informative ! Jerry Brown, Acting Town Manager, led the meeting and discussion. Generally meetings try to hold to about an hour’s duration. Brief presentations were made, questions asked and answered, and some good networking happened. We were still talking long after the meeting was officially adjourned two hours after the meeting convened. To my way of thinking that is a sign of a good meeting because all the people involved were sharing information freely and that willingness to communicate is a very powerful tool for building our community. ~ EPIP ~ The Eastern Piscataquis Industrial Park was a major topic for discussion. EPIP board members attending were : Barbara Crossman, Jeff Gahagan, Joe Beres, Donnie Richards, J.C. Gerrish, and Fred Trask. If you have recently driven by the former farm that is now the park you may have noticed the work being done to the roof of one of the big outbuildings. The 3.8 acres currently developed with the house, barns, etc. is for sale. Selling this part of the park could help by drastically reducing the amount of tax dollars needed for the mortgage on the remaining approximately +/- 150 acres. It needs to be as saleable as we can make it for the best result. Men from Charleston Correctional Facility are doing the work. They gain experience and skills while making a valuable contribution to Milo. There is no charge to the Town of Milo for the work the men are providing. My hat is off to anyone who is out in the cold working as these men are doing. Joe Beres reminded folks about the pond on the property and it’s potential for recreation, especially for our youth. It had been stocked earlier for “Milo Days” activities and will be stocked again soon. Frozen solid and cleared it will make a great skating place. Milo Water District is very much involved in the future of EPIP. There was discussion of extending the water and sewer lines to the park. The $500,000.00 grant to be used for infrastructure for the park should be here before long. An engineering study has been done recently enough that Milo will be compliant with regulations as long as work is done within a year or two. The last thing we need to do is to miss a deadline and have to redo the engineering study. The selectmen are looking for additional resources to apply to park infrastructure and other needs to make EPIP what we need it to be.The Milo Water District is also facing a deadline in 2009. Our water now comes from Sebec River. Along with the water comes solute which is filtered and the water purified producing what will be by 2009 standards an excess of disinfectant by-products. The only way to correct the ratio will be to add about 50% well water before pumping the water to homes. I understood that more than one well will be required. A biomass facility is being explored as a potential business for Milo. Another possible business for EPIP could be Corrections Corporation of America. CCA builds and staffs private prisons. It is advertising for sites and is a financially thriving corporation. There would be many jobs brought to the area just as there have been at Charleston as a result of that facility. Generally they build medium security facilities whose inmates usually are serving two to three year terms. Of course, I am looking on the internet and encourage others to do the same. For sure I need some time to think about this idea. Much as we need new businesses we also need the new business’ philosophies and practices to be compatible with Milo’s community values. ~ Downtown Revitalization ~We’re finally on our way to revitalizing our downtown. Next year the Elm Street project should be completed and we will know how the very center of town will look.Milo merchants have participated in a survey already. A first very well attended meeting was held and various projects were proposed, rated, and put into three categories - long term, short term and concept projects. Earlier it was planned to proceed in the spring - but why wait when we don't have to wait !?! Several people with skills, areas of expertise, and offers of hope and help attended and addressed the meeting. Jim Annis, our State Representative, attended and we can count on him for any help he can provide. We have a friend in Augusta (several in fact). Thomas Kittredge and Ken Woodbury, Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, talked about projects that they could support and how. There will be a grant submitted soon for an engineering study that is needed to turn the cement slab downtown into a “pocket park”. We cannot realistically accomplish the tasks that need to be done without the financial help of grants. One point is very important to pass on to everyone. Grantors look for community involvement and support and give extra “weight” to proposals that demonstrate these which can make a difference between obtaining a grant and not being funded for one. We hope that many, many people of all ages will believe in the future of Milo, make the time, and choose to help by their participation. There were a range of ages represented but we are missing the involvement of Milo’s youth. The input of our young people is very much desired. It’s their future too that we are building .Chris Shrum, Eastern Maine Development Corporation, talked about projects his corporation has helped bring into being for other municipalities. Russ Page of the Piscataquis County Chamber of Commerce encouraged businesses to join the Chamber for the benefits of membership especially in the area wide promotions of the Chamber. He spoke very enthusiastically about recent interest in tourism-type inquiries being received at the Chamber.We will accomplish more with the benefit of experience that these helping folks can provide than we will if we try to reinvent the downtown revitalization wheel here in Milo. It will take only a little work by many to make our downtown a new and improved center of activity. Everyone is welcome to join in the effort in any way they may choose. When we can involve as many people as possible we are not doing something to Milo, we are not doing this work for Milo - we’re doing the job the right way - with Milo. To join the Milo Downtown Revitalization effort you may e-mail Ken Woodbury : email@example.com or call (207) 564-3638 or toll free at : 1-800-539-0332 or write :Piscataquis County Economic Development Council50 Mayo StreetDover-Foxcroft, Maine 04426 NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.