The town of Poland’s decision against supporting external budget requests, including the Thompson Lake Youth Conservation Corps, is a missed opportunity.

The Youth Conservation Corps is a job program for local youths who are trained to solve conservation problems. In the five years they have operated, they have been supported through donations from local towns, from foundation grants, and from contributions from individuals.

The corps is sponsored by the Thompson Lake Environmental Association in order to complete projects which prevent unwanted materials from getting into the lake.

For the past three years, three of the towns surrounding this large lake – Casco, Oxford, and Otisfield – have contributed their fair share to keeping these boys and girls employed, and to keeping this lake pristine. This year, Poland is missing again.

For the towns, this should be all about the rate of return for the dollars invested. The three contributing towns realize a higher percentage of taxes is generated from the lakeshore property because of the higher valuations than most non-lakeshore properties. At the same time, public services rendered to the lakeshore community are much less, with fewer school children, less civic patrol, and less utility usage. In short, all savings to the towns.

With its decision, however, Poland won’t permit a $2,500 contribution to the YCC to be considered at the town meeting unless 250 signatures are gathered first, a nearly impossible task at this time of year.

Poland just doesn’t get it.

Tom Ray, West Poland

Editor’s Note: The writer is co-president of the Thompson Lake Environmental Association.

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