NEW GLOUCESTER — Selectmen on Monday set the property tax rate at $14.85 per thousand dollars of assessed value. It’s an increase of 20 cents over last year.

In other business, the board unanimously accepted ownership of the Malaga Island Monument in Pineland Cemetery, contingent on receiving money to cover the cost of insuring it, which is roughly $100 annually.

From the 1860s until 1912, laborers and fishermen lived on Malaga Island off the coast of Phippsburg. White and black residents married and lived together on the small island until the state of Maine evicted them in 1912. Included in the eviction was the state’s removal of the island cemetery to the grounds of the Maine School for the Feeble Minded in New Gloucester.

The school was known in later years as Pineland Center and was operated by the state until 1996. October Corp., an arm of the Libra Foundation, redeveloped the property into a multi-use park that includes agribusinesses, educational program, recreational facilities and commercial enterprises. 

Pineland Cemetery, which is owned by the town, is next to Pineland Farms.

The proposed monument lists the names of the deceased and memorializes some island residents who were to be remembered as a community. The monument lists the names of members whose bodies were exhumed from the Malaga Island Cemetery by the state and the names of those who died as patients at Pineland Center.

Fourteen graves were excavated on Malaga Island and the remains placed in the Pineland Cemetery, which is maintained by the town. Additionally, seven died at the Maine School for the Feeble Minded from 1912 to 1926.

A $20,000 grant from Gov. Paul LePage’s office will fund the monument which is 8½ feet long, 14 inches wide and 6 feet, 2 inches tall.

A project representative has asked the board to accept ownership of the monument if the project group is able to raise sufficient funds to serve as principal, the annual interest from which would pay for additional property insurance.

“This was not a proud moment for the state of Maine,” Selectman Laura Sturgis said.

Also Monday, the board agreed to develop a consent agreement with Ron Henry’s home occupation permit and the town for violations of the zoning ordinance. Henry’s small engine repair shop permit was rescinded several months ago for numerous violations, including a junkyard.

Code Enforcement Officer Debra Parks Larrivee said the property is 75 percent in compliance with cleaning up an excessive amount of equipment and parts.

Selectman Linda Chase will work on crafting the agreement for legal review.

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