Great Falls demo order stands, mayor in error

AUBURN — A decision to knock down the Great Falls Performing Arts Center in June 2011 stands after all, Mayor Dick Gleason said Wednesday.

Gleason said he was wrong when he declared the Nov. 15 vote to knock down the building in error.

"As of now, I'm perplexed," Gleason said Wednesday. "It seems to me that the whole purpose of ordinances and rules is to do what is best for the people at large. I don't think motions to suspend do this."

He had planned a formal vote on the matter at the Dec. 6 meeting. He said it would take a motion by one of the four councilors who voted to raze the building to revisit the issue.

"I've talked to councilors and they've said they would be willing to consider any proposals from (Community Little Theatre) to take over the building," Gleason said. He expects the theater group to present an offer to the city by the end of this week.

On Tuesday, Gleason declared the Nov. 15 vote in error, saying Robert's Rules of Order require a two-thirds majority vote to suspend the city's rules. In Auburn, a two-thirds majority equals five votes.

Councilors voted 4-3 on Nov. 15 to suspend their rules, allowing them to take up an unscheduled agenda item. They then voted 4-3 to tear down the building — with councilors Mike Farrell, Dan Herrick, Ray Berube and Belinda Gerry voting to demolish.

Gleason said he was unaware of the five-vote requirement at the time of the meeting, but learned about it afterward. He checked with the Maine Municipal Association before issuing his statement Tuesday.

But the MMA contacted him Wednesday, saying the city's charter overrides Robert's Rules of Order, specifically on suspending the rules.

"Somewhere down the line, I think we need to look at this and maybe change the section," Gleason said.

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 's picture


The problem was, people didn't go because the agenda item was for rent increases NOT demolishing it. The council knew what they were doing by putting the rules off to the side and voting on a completely different solution for the building when there weren't many people there to comment. Throw out the vote and put it on the agenda again with the right topic of conversation and many more would show up, I'm sure. And what about the stipulations that were put on the building when it was given to the city. I don't think, because of those, that the building can be taken down. Let CLT take over and manage the building and let the tenants stay put. Those businesses put alot of money into there spots within the building. L-A Economic Growth Coucil is running a contest to give money to an entrepreneur to START a business in the city as the city coucil is busy pushing MULTIPLE businesses out of business and out of the city. Some of these businesses may not be able to survive moving because of the out-of-pocket expense that they put in to prepare the rooms for their business to move in. The tenant have done a GREAT job improving many parts of the building with their own money. Give them a break, we can't afford to lose more business to other areas, not even across the bridge to Lewiston.

 's picture

I don't really care either way...

BUT, there has to be some sort of procedure. The council can't just suspend the rules, take a vote, and make these kinds of decisions without the opportunity for public input. Yeah, CLT was present at the meeting. But they certainly were not prepared or given the opportunity to prepare for this vote. The agenda item was a rent increase topic, not razing the building. Not only CLT, but all the other tenants were side-swiped here. "Auburn needs the money!" "this council is making tough decisions!" "hurray!" doesn't change the fact, in my opinion, that if this council wants to do something once and for all about Great Falls, they should schedule it as an agenda item and allow a reasonable debate. The arrogance of these councilors is amazing. What other issues will be taken up in this manner? I really don't care about the issue one way or another, but it bothers me that the council chooses to act in this manner. They're elected public servants, not part of some royal family of Auburn.

 's picture

Go to the meeting and have your input

You and others on this website keep saying there was no chance for public input. I was at the meeting. I could easily have stated my opinion at that time. Anyone who attended the meeting could have said something. There was a period for public input. Before any vote the mayor always defers to the public for comment. And quite frankly, there still is time for input. You have until June 2011 to come to the council with a proposal.

I'm not saying I agree or disagree with the methodology used in this situation. I am only saying that you are misrepresenting the situation. If you care about the way the city is being run, attend the council meetings, the planning board meetings, the school committee meetings and so forth and let your voice be heard. The Great Falls building was on the agenda so if you were interested in that topic why weren't you there? Most of the tenants of the building were there and some spoke. Unfortunately for everyone, I think both the city and the public act like this building should either belong to CLT or the city with no other alternatives. The other tenants in the building seemed to demur to Mr Peters of CLT. I can't understand why. Mr Peters has CLT's interest at heart, not the interest of the other tenants or anyone else and really shouldn't be expected to care about others.

I too don't care one way or the other, I just want it noted that there was room for public input and still is time for such.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Whatever anyone says, you're

Whatever anyone says, you're going to trump them or belittle them, so what's the point?

 's picture

Whats wrong with transferring

Whats wrong with transferring ownership of the Great Falls School to Community Little or some other non profit group...then the city say DON'T ask us for $$$ for this property anymore...this is now yours......

 's picture

Why should it go to a non profit?

What makes non profits so special that they should be given city property? Why not put it out to bid and let the highest bidder take it? Do you advocate giving non profits other city property? What is different about this situation?

 's picture

City Manager?

A city the size of Auburn should have a City Manager who will be responsible for ensuring that all rules are followed. Elected officials are part time and are not expected to know everything. That is why a City Manager is a good idea.

 's picture

And has in fact had a City

And has in fact had a City Manager for quite some time.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"My Heavens", sez the parrot.

"My Heavens", sez the parrot. "If we can't trust our mayors, whom can we trust?"
(Pretty good verbage for a parrot, eh?)

 's picture

Whats wrong with transferring

Whats wrong with transferring ownership of the Great Falls School to Community Little or some other non profit group...then the city say DON'T ask us for taxpayer $$$ for this property anymore...this is now yours......

 's picture

name one


 's picture

Is there more than one Mike

Is there more than one Mike Farrell. MAybe you should check this link which has Michael Farrell as the sole proprietor of Farrell Enterprises and lists DEMOLITION as one of the services they offer.... Check this link:

 's picture

yes, crafty - there ARE two Mike Farrells

I'm not sure if you really knew that and were just trying to make some political point or if you really don't know and are simply not that good at research.

The Mike Farrell who lives on Eastman has been at odds with the city for a long time for having so much junk around his home. He owns and operates Farrell Enterprises which discovered. The other Mike Farrell - Councilor Mike Farrell - lives up near Lake Auburn and works as a car dealer.

 's picture

Ironic Professions

What I find extremely ironic is that the two councelors that are pushing the HARDEST to close and demolish Great Falls School, own and operate demolition and construction companies. I see that as a TOTAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Even more so, it would validate the fact that they are looking to line there own pockets. They shouldn't get a vote as far as I'm concerned. Those that voted to not demolish the building need to stick to there guns and morals. Counselors, keep your hands out of the coffers.

 's picture

You are mistaken craftydad

Councilor Farrell is not associated or related to the Farrell Brothers Demolition Company. And Councilor Herrick does have a construction company, but focuses on residential building and remodeling.

I can't believe you would stoop this low to try and cast doubts about the motives of these councilors. They are trying to save the taxpayers of this city money. CLT has had it great for a number of years getting about 10,000 sf of space for about $700.00 a month. That is outrageously cheap; well below market value. Why do you think we as taxpayers should continue in this manner? We have cut essential city services such as plowing, spring clean up and such - so why not look at this expenditure as well?

As far as the way the decision was made, there was a period for public input. CLT was there that night to talk about the building. True the demolition was a new idea, but CLT was there and could have made an offer right there. Instead, they asked for even more time. They have had years to come up with a workable solution and yet still they stalled.

Even having said that, CLT or anyone else has six months to come to the council with a proposal. Stop all the letter writing campaigns and simply get a proposal in front of the council - they may sell you the building. But think before you do it because the building has been estimated to need many millions of dollars in repair. So bring your checkbook when you make your proposal. They citizens of this city cannot be asked to fund this any longer.

 's picture

Important matter

I think with a subject as controversial as this, that the rules should not be set aside. The vote to demolish the building was sneaky and underhanded as to do it when no one was there from the public to speak as it wasn't on the agenda. Therefore the vote should be thrown out and put on the agenda so people can speak. Remember we put people on the board and we may need to vote them off.


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