World Renowned

The Town of Lisbon is holding a public hearing this evening regarding the fate of the remaining Worumbo mill structure.  I can’t think about it right now, because that old building has been a sentry over my little town all my life, watching out for my safety as carefully as Uncle Bob in his oil truck.

If a person were to take a train from Boston to New York City to Washington, DC, they would see a long, deep scar of collapsing factories.  Like loose, dangling teeth, they wait for the wrecking ball.  Eventually, once all the abandoned factories outside of, say, Bridgeport, Connecticut have been razed, there will be space for a smooth, paved parking lot for…UBS!

Parking lots and banks and coffee shops…world renowned!

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4 Responses to World Renowned

  1. Two Cents says:

    The town would be foolish to assume responsibility for the privately-owned Worumbo property.

    It would be even more foolish to relieve the owner of his private burden only to demolish it.

    It would be most foolish of all to do any of that–relieve the owner of his private burden or demolish it–with bonds that only add to Lisbon taxpayer debt.

    Only a few mills per taxpayer, they will say, but it is still theft: taking money by tax to pay for someone’s private benefit (and it’s not only the owner of the Worumbo who would profit, it seems).

    There will be lots of pretty words about how this will benefit the Lisbon taxpayer, how they will get pretty bike paths and be rid of an eyesore, and how it will create a nice space for town festivals.

    Maybe. But follow the money. Who benefits? The owner of the Worumbo was glad to have it when it was profitable, but now that it isn’t, the taxpayer is supposed to relieve him of his burden?

    Unless the town has a better plan for the Worumbo than tearing it down at taxpayer expense, the town should just leave the Worumbo alone.

  2. jbomb62 says:

    @Two Cents

    You nailed it with your comment, especially this part; “But follow the money. Who benefits? The owner of the Worumbo was glad to have it when it was profitable, but now that it isn’t, the taxpayer is supposed to relieve him of his burden?” The answer would be, “of course.”

    Propping up “bidness” is as American as apple pie, and back when we still made things, Chevrolet. No one ever badmouths “bidness,” unless they’re railing against corporations. No, the small town business owner and good capitalists, the owners of the mills up and down the rivers of Maine and New England, did well with the labor of small towns like Lisbon Falls. They provided jobs, yes, but they made sure they got the upper hand in any transaction involving labor and capital. When it wasn’t profitable any more, they took their jobs somewhere else, first to the South and then to the third world.

    My Opa, pictured in the old newspaper photo, wouldn’t stand a chance today, coming across the ocean in search of a better life.

    The idea that building a bike path, or a fishing park on the Lisbon side of the river is ever going to result in a Field of Dreams, “build it and they will come” happy ending is pie in the sky, magical thinking. But, Americans love magic and happy talk, so the mill will get leveled, and we’ll see just how much economic riches follow. I’m guessing there will be none.

    The problem that Lisbon has at this point in time is a mill that’s been left to rot since 1987, basically. Nothing’s been done since the big fire, and now, the buildings have little or no value. Short of options, taking it down might be the only choice. Of course, the taxpayer always foots the bill, just like when towns, in the name of “economic development,” offer TIFs to “bidness” owners.

    • @jbomb62 and @ twocents,

      My father, while popular, was not the valedictorian of the Lisbon High School Class of 1951. However, when I was a “young voter” he told me “never vote to increase your taxes. They’ll find a way to increase your taxes sure enough. Don’t give them permission to do it.”

      While I’m sure the current mill owners are “perfectly lovely people” they haven’t taken care of their investment. That’s not the town of Lisbon’s affair. Like the overgrown fields O’Pa so detested (“Jimmy, someone should mow those fields and take care of their property”), the Worumbo has collapsed upon itself right in front of our eyes.

      I predict much weeping and gnashing of teeth; in the end, the town will do what the town wants to do. They always do.

      “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”
      –H.L. Mencken

  3. Loosehead Prop says:

    Julie, your answer, “in the end, the town will do what the town wants to do,” raises one very important question at the heart of all political philosophy: just what is the town? Is it the town council? Those who show up to vote at town meetings? Those who vote at regular elections? Those who pay taxes on property? And you answered that, in part, with “they.” The town is not a thing, or a concept, or a corporation, but people. Now, at least, it’s a question of which people.

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