GORHAM — The board of selectmen recently announced they have concluded negotiations with Gorham Paper & Tissue LLC, resulting in a formal periodic payment agreement for property taxes, interest and penalties.
The two-page document was signed by board chairman Mike Waddell on behalf of the town at Monday’s board meeting following a unanimous vote that was in line with an earlier vote taken in executive session Aug. 31, whose minutes the board has now unsealed.
Wayne Johnson, chief financial officer for Gorham Paper, signed the agreement Sept. 2.
Waddell explained that along with many other businesses across the state and country, Gorham Paper has suffered from crippling problems caused by and associated by COVID-19.
But unlike other businesses, its corporate structure served to prevent the company from receiving federal or state assistance, he said.
Under the agreement, Gorham Paper will not be required to make its current weekly tax payments of $10,000 through the month of September.
Then, beginning Oct. 2, the company will reinstate its weekly payments to the town of $6,500, representing 1/52nd of the current annual property tax bill.
Finally, beginning Jan. 8, 2021, Gorham Paper will make weekly payments to the town of $10,000, thereby returning to the original payment amount.
The agreement specifies: “All payments received will be applied first to outstanding interest and penalties and then to outstanding principal.”
The rest of the agreement spells out what penalties would or could be imposed if the company did not meet its payment obligations.
Right up front in the agreement, the town states that it “acknowledges and appreciates the past effort that GPT has made to bring their outstanding balance for property taxes, interest, and penalties to a more current status, with payments now being applied to the 2019 year."
No payments have been missed, Waddell reminded his fellow selectmen, Judy LeBlanc and Adam White.
The venerable mill on the banks of the Androscoggin River typically employs between 125-135 workers.
In other action, the board voted unanimously to approve a letter drafted by Town Manager Denise Vallee to Director Chris Gamache of the state Bureau of Trails.
Vallee signed the letter after the board had discussed its various components.
Vallee noted that both she and the board were very appreciative of the recent successful opening of the Route 16 OHRV parking lot and new trail access.
Vallee’s letter lists some further changes that are needed.
“There is a lack of signage for the new parking lot and for directing ATVers from the Route 2 parking lot to the new Route 16 parking lot,” she writes.
“As we discussed previously, the board of selectmen feels very strongly that there is no longer a need for ATVs to be loaded or unloaded at that location,” Vallee stated.
“ATVs no longer have to leave from that location. Further, the Presidential rail trail along the Route 2 parking lot should only be accessed by those that live there” Vallee requests that appropriate signage be posted, indicating this substantial changes.
“At a minimum,” she directs, “there should also be a sign placed on Paul Robitaille’s property at 50 Lancaster Road (Route 2) stating, 'ATV access for residents only.'"
Robitaille generously gave his permission for this use.
“The owner of the Moose Brook Motel has been directing all of his patrons to head toward the intersection of Routes 2 and 16 to take 16N to the trailhead,” Vallee noted.
She and board members discussed the role of the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Presidential OHRV Club, all businesses and law enforcement can play in spreading the word on signs, brochures, websites, map and word of mouth.
Fire Chief Philip Cloutier had a preliminary discussion about Halloween trick-or-treating. He believes it cansafely be done with social distancing and masks, and with special care taken by both those giving and receiving to only touch or handle a single piece at a time. He envisions everyone involved being outdoors in the open air. Cloutier will check with Berlin to see what hours they are planning so the communities are in sync.
The selectmen also picked up their discussion to try to develop a curbside trash pickup system and rules that are both rational and fair. Historically, AVRRDD has had rules and guidelines about recycling that have affected what businesses, trailer parks and households discard as trash. This will likely be an agenda item for some time.