Waldoboro seeks businesses for grant application

Possible conflict of interest threatens
By Bane Okholm | Dec 12, 2012
Photo by: Bane Okholm From left, Waldoboro Selectmen Steve Cartwright, Carl Cunningham, Ted Wooster, Vice Chairman James Bodman, Chairman Craig Cooley, and Town Manager John Spear listen to a speaker at the Selectmen's meeting Dec. 11.

Waldoboro — Selectmen unanimously voted Dec. 11 to submit letters of intent to be considered for a grant to fund façade improvements for downtown businesses.

Waldoboro Planning and Development Director Bill Najpauer said the downtown revitalization plan had identified 17 businesses that could use grant money for exterior improvements such as painting, repointing, signage, display windows, and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"I think we're gonna have a competitive chance on it," Najpauer said.

Property owners and lease holders linked to eligible properties will have to work together to compile letters of commitment detailing the cost of proposed improvements. The Maine Office of Community Development will review the correspondence, and may subsequently invite Waldoboro to submit a full grant application in March 2013.

The maximum award for a Micro-Enterprise Assistance Grant is $150,000, and would require a cash match of at least 30 percent from involved businesses, each of which would be eligible for up to $25,000. Najpauer recommended to the selectmen that the town pledge an additional $5,000 to strengthen the application.

Najpauer added that the town would only act as an administrator for grant funds, which would be released by the Maine Office of Community Development once renovations are complete.

In response to a question regarding a potential conflict of interest between Selectman Ted Wooster's role as a major building owner in Waldoboro, Najpauer said that Wooster's wife Elizabeth is the legal owner of the three downtown properties that could be eligible for the Micro-Enterprise Assistance Grant.

"We'd have to look into that," Najpauer told reporters. "I'll have to check that out, to be honest with you."

Najpauer later added that he will be contacting the Office of Community Development to determine what might constitute a conflict of interest, and how to proceed should the Woosters have interest in applying for the grant.

Selectman Wooster said in a Dec. 12 phone call that he and his wife are "very carefully exploring" the details, and will not make a commitment to the grant initiative at this point.

Courier Publications reporter Bane Okholm can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at bokholm@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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