LISBON — A half-hour hearing on a proposed $2.4 million bond issue for the water department drew few questions Tuesday night, while a second hearing on a $1 million bond issue to demolish the deteriorating Worumbo Mill building drew strong opposition.

Although the purpose of the second hearing was to see if residents want to put the $1 million bond issue before voters on the November ballot, the overwhelming majority of comments on the Town Council’s proposal focused on why the town shouldn’t be involved at all.

Town Manager Steve Eldridge said the 1920s-era building has been vacant since 2006 and has been for sale by the Miller family since 2009. Since that time, he said 10 developers have looked at the property but all concluded it would cost too much to restore.

Councilor Lisa Ward said the owners came to the council a few years ago to talk about demolishing the building but were persuaded by the council to wait to see if it could be redeveloped. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Brenda Heath was one of several residents who said the town has more pressing issues to handle, like fixing deteriorating roads.

“That’s waterfront property,” she said. “Let the owners take care of it. I just got my tax bill, and it went up $400.”


Don Stein agreed, asking councilors, “Have you people rode the streets? Pine Street? High Street? Have you ever walked on the sidewalks? My taxes just went up another $400. No, I’m not buying that mill. You want to be in the real estate business, get out and go to school,” a comment that prompted a round of applause.

Debbie Barry wanted to know if the property was in compliance with DEP hazardous waste regulations.

Eldridge said the Millers had taken care of about 80 percent of the problems, but there is one remaining pipe that has mercury in it. As long as that pipe is not disturbed, it can be left as it is, he said.

Barry asked if the DEP records are available.

“Yes, all that information is available if anyone wants to see it,” Eldridge said.

During the first two hours of the mill hearing, only one resident spoke in favor of the proposal. Jan Goldsmith, who said she recently moved to Lisbon from the Yarmouth area, called the proposal “an excellent opportunity for the town.”


“A lot of what people are saying relates to the past,” she said. “We have to look at the future. We’ve got to find a way for this town to thrive. We need to keep this a beautiful little town to raise a family.”

Town ownership of the property would make the town eligible for federal brownfields or cleanup grants, Eldridge said, which would not be available to private parties.

“We don’t know when those grants are going to dry up,” Fay Brown said.

Brown asked if the town can go ahead with the proposal without a vote of the townspeople. She was told the council doesn’t have the authority to do that.

“If the question (to float $1 million in bonds) doesn’t go for a vote, the council may have to look in a different direction,” Ward said.

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