News Feature

Castine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, April 10, 2014
Selectmen won’t lower The Breeze rent, offer refund if out by May 10
‘Zero-sort’ recycling coming to town

The Breeze dockside take out

Snow Logan, the owner of The Breeze dockside restaurant in Castine, Maine, was refused her request for lower rent but may sublease the business, or vacate by May 10, selectmen voted on April 7. Above, Logan opens the dockside take-out in spring of 2011.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

Selectmen voted on April 7 to maintain the original, signed lease agreement with The Breeze owner Snow Logan. Logan had asked selectman to lower the $4,500 rent to $2,000, stating she could not otherwise open the dockside take-out.

“Snow, we’re sorry this situation has come to this,” said Chairman David Unger after the 3-0 vote. “It’s unfortunate.”

The present lease allows Logan three options: 1) to continue the business as entered into with the town; 2) to find someone to take over the lease; or 3) cancel the lease and the town would refund the rent paid if she would vacate the premises by May 10.

Logan owns the building and will have to move it off the waterfront to fulfill the third option.

“It’s outrageous,” Doris Russell said of the selectmen’s vote. “I don’t see how you could do that.”

The issue behind the higher rent is the public bathrooms located on the waterfront, which 30 years ago were made part of the lease with The Breeze when the cleaner left.

“The owners at the time came to the town with a proposition,” said Selectman Peter Vogell, to not raise the rent and they would clean the public restrooms. “The town ever since did that.”

Complaints on the state of the restrooms led to selectmen hiring a professional cleaner last summer.

“What it costs the town to clean the bathrooms is how much the rent was raised,” said Vogell.

“We have really, really tried,” said Selectman Gus Basile. “Snow wouldn’t even talk to us.”

Logan negotiated the new contract through her lawyer, Michael Harmon, counter-offering $4,500 to the town’s initial $6,000 lease price.

Russell said other towns charge little or no rent for comparable waterfront stands. “It’s an attraction to the town; it’s a service in the town…The bathrooms never should have been included.”

Town Manager Dale Abernethy told Russell she was “demonizing the town for something the lessee has instigated,” and “other people in town” have complained the town was renting the location “at a below-market rate.”

Unger said future rent “should be based on the business enterprise,” with the town responsible for maintaining the bathrooms.

Logan said three people have looked at sub-leasing the business, but have not contacted her further.

No-sort recycling to start

Selectmen approved a bid by Pine Tree Waste Inc., owned by Casella Waste Inc. of Massachusetts, to remove household garbage, unsorted recycling and demolition debris from the transfer station. The bid was one of seven received by the town.

The company is “one of the strongest companies in the field and is also the one most competitively priced,” said Abernethy. The annual cost will depend on tonnage of waste disposed and is anticipated to be $53,000.

The town paid $58,000 in the last fiscal year for waste removal to WFT Disposal of Levant, and currently hauls pre-sorted recyclables to the City of Bangor, which does not accept glass and most plastics. That facility is closing on June 1.

In “zero-sort” recycling, households place glass, aluminum, newspaper, magazines and office paper, nearly all plastics and clean cardboard, including shoebox and cereal box-type, into one container for pick up.

“It seemed like a win-win situation to us,” said Abernethy.

Information on exactly how the no-sort recycling will work from a resident standpoint will be forthcoming.

“It’s something people have been asking for,” said Basile.

Upcoming meetings

Main Street Plan Presentation, Tuesday, April 22, 3 p.m., followed by selectmen’s meeting

Selectmen’s meeting, Monday, May 5, 4 p.m.