In September 2012, I wrote a letter to the Sun Journal making a comparison between the defunct Old Orchard Beach ball park and the proposed (at that time) ice arena in Auburn. I warned the residents of Auburn and city officials to think the project over very carefully, so as not to end up in the same financial mess as Old Orchard.
A recent Sun Journal story reported that Auburn’s arena is financially in the red. No big surprise.
City officials are saying not to panic. I believe residents should be very concerned because those officials’ bad judgment means hard times will soon become a reality. Residents can expect to have even higher property taxes for many years to come.
The mentality that “if we build it, they will come” is a very poor planning concept. The Lewiston-Auburn area has always struggled to make ends meet financially. I don’t see that changing.
Who thinks these ideas up? The Colisee, only 10 minutes away, was struggling, but it filled the void for skating and/or hockey. Yet someone said, “Hey let’s build an arena.”
Soon, Auburn officials will need to make some hard choices — either raise property taxes to pay for the ice arena or start laying off city employees.
I will wait and see what the next headlines read because the issue is far from over. And really, how many Auburn residents have even set foot in that arena? My guess would be not many.
Robert Clark, Auburn