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Selectmen agree to seek government grants to revive mill site



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The Northumberland selectmen — Jim Tierney, left, chairman Jim Weagle, and Michael Phillips — met for 10 minutes at noon on Friday to read and then sign a letter to DRED supporting their role as applicants for government-backed grants. (Photo by Edith Tucker) (click for larger version)
October 07, 2015
NORTHUMBERLAND — The Northumberland select board posted a meeting at mid-morning on Thursday, announcing that the trio would meet the following day, Oct. 2, at high noon for a single agenda item: "Discussion of Grant Application."

Instead of a grant application, however, chairman Jim Weagle read aloud a letter the board had been asked to sign addressed to the state Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), attention of Benoit Lamontagne, North Country Industrial Agent for DRED's Division of Economic Development.

The letter had an inside sub-title: "Northumberland support role in Groveton mill re-development."

Its letter read as follows: "Focusing on the Town of Northumberland and surrounding areas, a business attraction effort spearheaded by (DRED) has been mobilized by multiple federal and state agencies. As the plans for the former Groveton paper mill properties advance to implementation, this team is likely to request participation from the Town of Northumberland via Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and other grant applications. Because these funding opportunities, especially CDBG, are critical business attraction components, the Northumberland Board of Selectmen intends to support efforts to attract and retain businesses as an applicant for pertinent funding opportunities. The Town of Northumberland's engagement in such economic development support is in the best interest of the community and contributes to the team's success."

Selectman Michael Phillips stated, "Northern Pass is not part of this letter." He said he understands that Northern Pass makes loans, not grants, eliminating the letter's applicability.

"The town will be supporting grant applications, acting as a pass-though," Phillips said.

The town played the role of applicant in the $250,000 Northern Border Regional Commission grant that was recently announced to help pay for municipally owned water and wastewater (sewer) lines to the former Groveton paper mill site, a property now owned by a private developer — Bob Chapman — who seeks to prepare the site for continued industrial investment.

The board agreed that the letter of support was only designed to apply to government-funded grants, and all three men signed it.

Five people were on hand for the meeting: developer Bob Chapman; Scott Mason of Stratford, a community liaison for Elevare Communications of Concord that does work for Northern Pass; Al Rossetto of Groveton, plus two other citizens.

Phillips said that he had asked town counsel what he thought of the content of an article published in this newspaper about Northern Pass having a discussion with Dummer selectmen about using a method of assessing the proposed transmission line based on book value to establish a known property tax income and had received a negative reply. The methodology described had included an annual 2.5 percent depreciation during the first 20 years.

Selectman Jim Tierney said that he doesn't believe a utility should be able to depreciate an asset, since that technique should only be used on personal income taxes.

The meeting was adjourned after 10 minutes.

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