To the editor:
A huge thanks to Steve Bender for speaking out about the lack of transparency and oversight at the Eastern Slope Regional Airport — “Trustees seek info on 40-year airport lease” (Nov. 21). The airport is obviously in chaos and things like retroactively approving actions taken by the airport authority from 2014 on could (or should) be illegal.
From my perspective, the main issue is the airport seeking a 40-year lease that would then allow them to potentially lease “unused” airport land to another entity — in other words — Nestle, for the bottling plant the town resoundingly voted against on Oct. 12. This possibility was mentioned on Water Waves Facebook page the day before the Oct. 26 selectboard meeting.
Whether the airport intended to ask for a 40-year lease for the whole airport or not, what they ended up requesting at that selectboard meeting (that I attended) was a 40-year lease for the footprint of the hangar they want to build to accommodate jets being flown in by wealthy people.
There seems to be the expectation that more wealthy people (Nestle executives?) will be wanting to land larger jets at the airport in the future. However, based on Bender’s information, it appears that this may have been a last-minute switch — from the whole airport to just that footprint — because they knew many citizens were going to be attending that selectboard meeting and it would not have gone over well. We had better pay close attention to the wording we vote on at town meeting this year!
The other thing is the town officials’ continued insistence that their resounding loss on Oct. 12 (the TIF and land sale) was due to a few people, many of them “non-residents of Fryeburg (who) had ruined the town.”
First of all, if the officials had been successful in passing the TIF and land sale — that would have ruined the town! Fryeburg would have become Nestle’s town and it would have paved the way for even more water extraction, making if more difficult for us and for surrounding towns to protect our water resources.
Second, it was not just a few people — there were lots of us and most everyone I worked with is a resident of Fryeburg.
A couple of non-residents were very helpful — but they live in what Nestle is now calling the “Greater Fryeburg Region” — and what happens here in Fryeburg directly impacts their towns too.
Just as the aquifer is not a closed system, Fryeburg isn’t either. We are all in this together. And we must all come together to protect our communities and our water!