Letters, Camden Herald
Support Snow Bowl improvements
On behalf of the three dozen businesses that make up the Camden Downtown Business Group, I ask voters to support the $2 million bond for the redevelopment of Ragged Mountain. We believe that investment in this project will succeed overwhelmingly by helping to sustain our local economy during winter months and by boosting it during the shoulder seasons. Currently, with $3.6 million dollars in sales and earnings generated annually by the Snow Bowl, plus 62 jobs and $1.4 million in indirect revenue, the recreational area has proven its economic impact on our community. The research at camdenmaine.gov underscores the fact that with the proposed redevelopment, the Snow Bowl’s impact is only likely to grow.
Because we all choose to live and do business in this area, we are aware that life here is about more than just dollars. The Ragged Mountain Recreational Area provides healthy activities for our residents young and old and enhances our treasured quality of life. With $4.5 million in private funds collected during the past several years toward this project, it’s an opportunity that won’t come our way again.
For these reasons, the Camden Downtown Business Group urges residents to come out and vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5, to support the Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Project.
Oscar Verest, President
Camden Downtown Business Group
A great deal for investors
The local controversy over the proposed substance abuse treatment facility at Fox Hill has nothing to do with whether such facilities are good, or bad, needed or not. It is purely a zoning issue for residents of Camden. It is about whether Camden residents want such facilities in their residential neighborhoods instead of where they belong – in zones that already allow such facilities. Since this is a Camden only zoning issue, it is easy for people who don’t live in Camden to be in favor of it because they don’t have to live with the negative consequences in their neighborhoods. Camden residents cannot afford to be so cavalier.
The investors in this business have played on the emotions of those of us whose families have had personal experience with substance abuse issues. What is left out of this ploy is that the facility is NOT intended to help the people in need in our community. Instead, its minimum $50,000 per month cost is targeted at very wealthy abusers from away.
In their economic presentation, the Fox Hill investors state their yearly costs to be about $3.5 million. And, at the minimum charge of $50,000 per month per patient, their income would be $7.2 million per year at full occupancy. In this case, their investment would give them a profit of $3.7 million, or more than 100 percent per year. Even at a more typical 80 percent occupancy, their profit would still be $2.5 million, or 70 percent per year. A remarkably lucrative investment gain for them. Their sales pitch to sell the concept to the rest of us included a theoretical economic impact analysis which greatly exaggerated the benefit to Camden. But, instead of picking a site that is already zoned to allow such a facility in Camden, they chose the Fox Hill site because it benefits their wallets, not Camden. Fox Hill is a great deal for the investors, but NOT for Camden.
Like other towns that have allowed such exceptions to their zoning, Camden wouldn’t be able prevent other medical treatment facilities from invading any of our residential neighborhoods. Law suits claiming discrimination based on income have resulted in very different kinds of substance treatment facilities coming into residential neighborhoods. Do you want a methadone treatment next door to you? I have seen what happens in other communities when the zoning ordinances are undermined in this way, and I would not want that happen here, nor should you.
Time to move forward
Next week, Camden voters will decide if it is time to complete the funding package for the redevelopment of the Camden Snow Bowl at Ragged Mountain. Since 2008, countless volunteer hours and effort have gone in to the planning and fundraising effort to get to this milestone. The capital campaign has been successful with $4.5 million in private donations pledged, representing 70 percent of the total needed to complete the project.
In November 2008, Camden voters voiced their support for municipal financing for 30 percent of the project by a 2 to 1 margin. We are hoping for the same support next week in November 2013.
It is time to move forward with the infrastructure improvements necessary to keep the Snow Bowl and its outdoor recreation programs alive and well for the next generation. It’s time to support our kids and the kid in all of us with local year round outdoor recreation that is unique to our part of coastal Maine. It’s time to acknowledge the economic benefit the Snow Bowl makes to our local economy.
Camden voters needing information about the project can go to the Town Office or to camdensnowbowl.com and click on Redevelopment.
To all of the volunteers and contributors in this amazing effort to date: thank you!
See you at the polls Tuesday, Nov. 5, to vote yes for the Snow Bowl!
Co-Chairmen, Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Committee