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Mayor’s Column—Enough is Enough

Change is difficult, but it is good

By Robert Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Absence does not always make the heart grow fonder. All 240 pounds of me was born, raised, grew up and lived half of my life in the Athens of America—Boston. It is not my intent to bore you, the reader, with details of my rather exciting past life in an exceptionally exciting city.

Rather, I’d like to note several unremarkable incidents during my time in Boston, which contrast with incidents that have currently taken on apocalyptic dimensions in Lewiston.

In the mid 1960s during the bleak winter nights my brother and I would MBTA it to the Boston Garden to watch the Bruins—lose. Time passed, the Bruins started winning and soon a new home was needed. TD Bank Garden replaced the legendary Boston Garden, a place that held a lot of history but, alas, had outlived its usefulness.

Many avid sports fans have great memories of the good times they experienced while The Garden was going full throttle. However, after enjoying the open arena at the new TD Garden, one would be hard pressed to find any of these fans wanting to return to the good old days.

I grew up in a very Irish Catholic neighborhood. Yes, we had a sprinkling of Italians and Polish, but the neighborhood was overwhelmingly Irish. Now, in Irish neighborhoods, you’ll find three different classes: the Shanty Irish, who were laborers; a middle group who were not quite Shanty, but were working to attain the moniker of the third group; the Rich or, as they were commonly referred to, the Lace Curtain Irish.

We had three Catholic churches in the area. Each one—you guessed it—was designated to serve each one of the groups. Just like in Lewiston, each group was baptized, confirmed, married and buried at their respective churches.

Then one day a newer fourth church was added to the mix. After construction, many of the generational parishioners from the other churches transferred to the new church, living happily ever after in their modern environment. They experienced change and found it good.

Lately it seems anxiety is running high among our Lewiston senior citizens. They are being informed that, due to the expansion of the Longley School, it is necessary they find a new home in another part of the city. They seem to fear change, viewing it as a disruption in their lives.

But change is on the horizon. Not the horizon of a setting sun, but a rising one. Wherever the new Senior Center lands, it will provide our seniors with more parking and a brighter, bigger space in which to recreate. Within a few weeks, their current center will be just a past memory.

Then we have Mill No. 5. Take it, anyone—please! Did anyone in their wildest imagination ever foresee this long-abandoned, decaying building elevated to the same status bestowed on Independence Hall in Philadelphia? It seems the most verbal groups lobbying for its restoration live out of town in places that have considerably lower tax rates. So, if they want to play, we insist they pay.

Excluding a miracle (re: a private developer with extremely deep pockets) the mill is coming down. In its heyday, Mill No. 5 served this city well. Like the old Boston Garden, however, it is no longer useful.

While a new Lewiston slowly rises up from the rubble, grandparents will still have their memories and pictures at Museum L/A.


One Response to “Mayor’s Column—Enough is Enough”

  • Tom Peters:

    Robert nicely said.
    If I recall the council upon which I sat also agreed to take the mill down. Came close but the then acting city administrator decided it needed to be a mecca for slots and since the council term was up delay got him his way.
    There was a great deal of discussion and planning put into turning Lincoln St into the new hub of the City. You should look up those plans–they included some great ideas. Many people met in various venues to express their views. Rick Speer headed the effort and I am sure he can give you a wealth of information. Even considered making the Mill 5 area a park and taking the park near the river and making it into an area where cafes and the like with decks on the water. Finally making great use of the might A.Lots of small shops and things to do. The mill site with the canals near would be a great park and open up the area. We negotiated with Florida Power and they were going to pay the city to take over the canals. All the notes from those discussions are available. Maybe even change the direction of traffic on Canal or close it off for open markets and pedestrians to compliment the park. It was exciting to see all the possible uses most of which didn’t require deep pockets. It would be nice to see that excitement again and I think you and your council can make it happen. They appear to be ready and willing and by the way so is the council and mayor in Auburn. For the first time I do see the real chance the cities can make things happen as a team.
    Good luck with your term as mayor. Call on the people to help you and let’s all pull together to move our great city forward.

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