KINGFIELD – Whether the town creates or rents additional municipal parking, town officials must address the issue as part of their growth strategy, selectmen were told Monday night.

Village Enhancement Committee Chairwoman Cynthia Orcutt reported that although business may draw more traffic, owners have few places to offer convenient parking.

“Most of the work on that has been done to date by Clay (Tranten) and the Planning Board,” she said. “They are looking at how other towns deal with this.”

Orcutt also reported on a recent historical building survey of older structures in the downtown area, using the services of a former student.

“Grace Hooke grew up here, and she worked on an internship through Smith College,” she said. “She’s majoring in archaeology, so she took photos and documented houses on the Stanley Loop on east side of Route 27 and on Main Street.”

Hooke photographed and described each of the 72 properties to determine whether the town would be interested in creating a historic district. The town might consider, in the future, ways to provide signage, information, maps and locations of walking trails.

Orcutt also asked selectmen to consider the town joining an organization called the Maine Downtown Network Communities.

“We would become part of the network that includes a mixture of all size communities,” she said. “We also will get advice on working more efficiently together.”

Maybe groups would have more strength and shared resources by combining their efforts, she suggested.

“Instead of separate committees working in separate groups, we could pool our resources and find new volunteers, which we all want,” she said.

Roxanne Eflin, senior program director of the Maine Development Foundation, will speak to interested residents at Webster Hall from 3 to  5 p. m. Wednesday, Oct.17.

Lisa Standish, owner of the Mountain Village Farm bed and breakfast, asked selectmen to appoint a committee to study the current tax structure. With the number of tax liens increasing, the town should be searching for a larger and diversified tax base, she said.

“The property tax situation is becoming frightening,” she said. “There appear to be at least 20 houses in the village that look to be unoccupied or abandoned.”

With the possibility of the town of Eustis withdrawing from the school district, she suggested taxpayers should be advised how they will be expected to make up the difference.

“My taxes have gone up 42 percent since I moved here,” she said. “There are a lot of buildings that are closed, and that brings down everyone’s property values.”

Standish asked selectmen to consider ways to bring business to town. The former Knapp’s auto dealership, among other locations, would be a good place for a new commercial enterprise to locate, she said.

Board Chairwoman Heather Moody protested the claim that the town’s taxes have gone up. When property changes use, valuation changes accordingly. In Lisa Standish’s case, Moody said, the property and buildings had been used as a working farm, but when Standish converted it to a bed and breakfast, the valuation changed.

“Our taxes haven’t gone up 42 percent, but maybe the values on your buildings have gone up,” Moody said. “When I came on board as a selectman 12 years ago, the mil rate was 16.8, but some of the values were a lot lower.”

The town’s tax rate is currently 14.5 mils, or $14.50 per $1,000 of property valuation.

In other news, selectmen decided to approve Webber Energy Fuels’ bid to supply town buildings with oil for the winter.


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