By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
Early morning. The rays of the sun break over the horizon. Quiet and tranquility dance through the air. Morning dew covers the grass. Chirping birds, squirrels and chipmunks forage for their breakfast. A soothing peace envelopes Kennedy Park.
Then, out of nowhere, the din of morning strikes. Public Work employees reinforced by workfare clients descend on Kennedy Park. Their mission: clean up the trash before the working people descend on the downtown.
The Herculean task created by an abundance of local layabouts, improperly discarding an excessive amount of waste, is methodically addressed. Monday through Friday, the task is successfully completed because of the dedication and pride of these workers.
Former mayor Larry Gilbert attempted to address this annoyance by placing trash cans in the park. While this failed to reduce the problem in Kennedy Park, it has proven very effective in other Lewiston Public Parks throughout the city. It further allows the city to pinpoint the problem areas and address them.
We have approximately 14 parks throughout Lewiston. These parks tell a story of a city on the move. A city in transformation. A city that Lewistonians are realizing is a great place to live.
A few weeks ago, I put the squalor of Kennedy Park and its surrounding neighborhood on my list of subjects for my column. Amongst the overwhelming negatives permeating the area, I found residents fed up with the crime and filth running amok in their neighborhood.
After speaking and listening to their complaints and solutions, I have concluded that what was once seen as impossible is being shown to be doable and will soon be accomplished.
In Kennedy Park I have seen park users picking up trash and depositing it into trashcans.
Inner-city homeowners and renters proudly keep up their properties’ appearance, despite the neighborhood layabouts continually depositing trash everywhere but the proper receptacle.
Special kudos to the residents in the area of Sunnyside Park, where civic pride can be witnessed daily through the way the residents meticulously take care of their park.
Kudos to the woman in Tall Pines who watches over the recreation area deterring vandalism.
A special thanks to the church groups who have been sprucing up our city in the last few weeks.
Finally, thank you to the Public Works and workfare employees that continue to make Lewiston appealing to outsiders.
It’s time for Lewistonians to come out and enjoy your parks. Visit Veterans’ Memorial Park for reflection, Simard Payne Park to walk, daydream, clear your mind or recreate with the kids. Go downtown for lunch and visit Dufresne Park, where you can quietly eat your lunch while enjoying the outdoors and the beautiful park surroundings.
The days of lower Lisbon Street are gone. It’s time to come and experience the new Lewiston.
Now for our weekly update:
Lewiston property taxpayers might want to sit down (if you’re on heart medication, you might want to take it) before reading on. This week, not only will you get Lewiston’s updated General Assistance numbers, but also the TANF numbers of Portland and Auburn.
To date Lewiston has had 61 families totaling 300 individuals apply for extended welfare benefits. Thus far 20 families have qualified, costing the city $8,232.94 of your hard-earned tax dollars.
What’s interesting to note is that 41 families who have applied have not completed the paperwork required for them to stay on the dole. Their inactions show how dependent on the government they have become.
Now let’s compare Lewiston to Auburn and Portland. In Auburn, 15 former TANF families have applied for benefits; 12 were found eligible. When compared to Lewiston, this is a 1:4 ratio.
The eye opener is Portland, where 22 former TANF families (18 accepted thus far) have applied for further General Assistance. This is a 1:3 ratio when compared to Lewiston.
The question now becomes, why the disparity? You, the property taxpayers, will have to answer that.
Remember in November.