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Taking another route for development
RUMFORD -- Stating that they've been down this road before, the Board of Selectmen hemmed and hawed for some time Thursday before voting unanimously to fund what was termed "a first step in economic development."
That action followed an economic development services proposal by Glen Holmes, director of the Western Maine Economic Development (WMED), and River Valley Growth Council Director Jim Rinaldo.
The board has been accepting proposals for economic development but preferred the duo Holmes-Rinaldo in part because they are local and are knowledgeable about this region.
Holmes said this first step will involve a 90-day window to do an inventory of businesses and develop a plan of what kinds of businesses the town should pursue. Along with this, the university will provide the demographics of this area that will help to make these decisions.
"What do we have? What do we need? And have the public talk about it," he added.
Board Chairman Greg Buccina noted, "We know what we have in this town. We've talk about things we need. We can do an end-all study every year. Why not just to with a task?"
Volkernick said, "Let's not key on anything. I would like to see Rumford take any business it can get."
Rinaldo noted, "This industrial park took in $750,000 in tax dollars this past year. The business park is extremely important."
The board was hesistant to offer any monetary amount.
Selectman Jeremy Volkernick asked, "Could we wait a couple months until we know more about the state budget plans?"
Noting previous economic development efforts that lacked success, a comment was made that what would Holmes and Rinaldo do that hasn't been done before.
Holmes, who represents 34 towns as director of WMED, responded, "You haven't given me a chance to do this. Jim and I are the right people for this."
He added that he has set meetings this week with major local employers to discuss some ideas he has.
Holmes said, "If you don't vote, we won't start."
Selectmen then voted 5-0 to authorize Town Manager Carlo Puiia to appropriate up to $5,000 to WMED to cover expenses for the study. Holmes noted that he will not be charging his time to this effort.
If this venture progresses beyond this first step, the proposal requests a fee of $12,000 per year for a field office.
In other business, the board also took time for a review of the Hawkers and Peddlers Ordinance amendments.
Puiia said an idea for an amendment would be to create what he termed a "single event vendor's license." For groups like the Fourth of July Committee and the River Valley Farmer's Market in the downtown, such a license would enable these group to then charge a site fee for vendors.
"It would be an important revenue stream to have with the expense of these events," he noted.
Selectmen were supportive of the idea but took no vote that would move the proposal onto the town attorney for a legal review. If presented, it would require voter approval.
Selectmen also voted to place a charter amendment on the June town meeting warrant to change the date for ordinance hearings.
Puiia suggested that by moving the ordinance meetings in February instead of April, it would give them more time to do the necessary work before the town meeting. He noted that they could have hold the public hearing in April.
Selectmen gave approval of a hawkers and peddlers license for Annette Marin, who is doing business as Gone Loco! Cafe at No View Farm. They also approved an easement amendment and restriction agreement to Federated Realty V, LLC, which is the River Valley Crossing.