2012-01-03 / Opinion

Good people guide The Park

LOCAL COMMENTARY
BY HALCYON BLAKE

I have worked with the Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark for more than 10 years, first as a city councilor when it was proposed and developed with the help of Councilor Bernie Wyman, Police Chief Pete Lizanecz, Joe Black, Jamie Sylvestri, Gretchen Jaeger, prevention counselor Marty O’Brien, and businessman and Bath resident Herb Kresser.

Unfortunately, Herb passed away last year after a life of accomplishment in the U. S. Marines and management at AT&T. After he retired to Maine, his accomplishments included serving for eight years as a passionate founding member of the board of directors of The Park.

I know that he would be impressed with the current board, which has many distinguished members, including business owner Tobias Parkhurst, chief executive officer of O& P Glass in central Maine; Juli Millett, Bath’s finance director; Mike Field, Bath’s police chief; James Omo, former city councilor and business owner; Rob Kerr, associate vice president of communications for marketing and publications at Bowdoin College; Michael Tucker, course materials and book manager at Bowdoin College; plus many distinguished professionals in child and adolescent services.

Despite Jackie Dwinal’s snide insinuations in a Dec. 30 letter to the editor (“ Keep Armory board”), these are competent and dedicated people who have come to know the organization well and want it to run well and to prosper long into the future.

Who better to manage the armory facility in which their organization will be the primary tenant and likely the only one with the capacity to produce revenues — as it currently does — to help defray the costs of operating the building and at the same time to provide important youth services?

To insinuate that because board members are passionate about the cause and actually listen to the youth served, they therefore run the board emotionally and incompetently, is insulting and illogical!

They are passionate about the importance of this facility for Bath’s youth and they may become emotional when talking about it. Steve Jobs was passionate about Apple and made many decisions based on emotion and gut, but I hardly think Mrs. Dwinal would presume to say that a board with no interest in computing or knowledge of same would have been better at running Apple Computer.

Her assumptions could not be further from the truth and merely serve her prejudiced arguments against the organization and against allowing the present board and Bath Recreation Department to continue operating the building in which the organization (along with other possible community groups) will reside.

Mrs. Dwinal’s implication is that The Park is run without business sense or practice. The portion of the old Y that caused the problems was the portion of the building that was specifically “off limits” to The Park, its employees and attendees. That included the specification of a barrier built to prevent access.

She misspeaks in accusing the board of negligence in regard to the maintenance of a building they didn’t inhabit, while placing no blame on the former management of the YMCA or the Bath Development Corp. for leaving the portion of the building in question in disrepair with a broken boiler and a waterfilled pool.

At that time, The Park was run by the board, without the participation of the Recreation Department. It is actually since their inclusion that the situation came to light and the unfortunate necessity of demolition became evident.

Mrs. Dwinal should use facts rather than unfounded statements that serve her position.

I don't know if Mrs. Dwinal has had the opportunity to review the finances of the Custom House model she recommends, or any of the other boards that do and have run buildings such as the Higher Education Center. The Custom House (run by a paid board) does not return any money to the city, not even a payment in lieu of taxes, and has not in the last 10 years at least.

They use city resources to make major improvements for a commercial venture in a premier downtown location. It provides no services to citizens other than maintaining the integrity and presence of an important and beautiful historic landmark.

I hope Mrs. Dwinal will take me up on an offer to go over those financials with her with the knowledge earned with my master’s in business administration from Stanford and 40 years of business experience in coordination with her practiced citizen’s eye to show me why her preferred model would better serve Bath citizens, Bath’s youth, The Park and other civic groups.

If the City Council, after educated deliberation, decides that this impetuously proposed idea is the correct model, the board of The Park will do everything in its power to make the model work, cooperating with the appointed armory board.

However, the key here is “after educated deliberation” in considering the idea, not acceding to hastily thrown out roadblocks which were not allowed public deliberation nor consideration before a vote was demanded.

HALCYON BLAKE lives in Bath. A former Bath city councilor, she owns Halcyon Yarn in Bath.

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