I have come up with a final and strong stand on Bates Mill No. 5’s future.

If renovated with millions put into it by our cities’ people, the mill should be used by the people to see and enjoy.

A re-modeled mill, with its size, location and history, would create jobs, spark other development, become an attraction, improve the downtowns, and most of all, take root in the cities’ hearts.

There is also an idea to turn the mill into a convention center, at estimated cost of $40 to $60 million. Though I agree this is not a bad idea, other cities, like Portland and Augusta, are better fits for one.

This is easier said than done. The problem is cost. Even demolition would cost an estimated $3.1 to $4.35 million.

Though the mill’s future is important to me, I would rather see it demolished than used for the wrong reasons. A casino, or private business use, should receive no consideration. A casino would bring the wrong image for Lewiston-Auburn. And for private businesses, why spend millions of dollars in a project the public would not be able to enjoy?

There shouldn’t be a rush to decide, but the mill’s cost in its present state is about $400,000 each year. A decision must be made within five years. This project has gone on too long.

How the mill is used should better the community.

Whatever we decide will be reflected on us.

Christian Labonte

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