On Friday, April 28, Hallowell residents will be voting on a bond package to fund improvements in the city, including Stevens Commons. We could have split this bond into various components, but the whole package supports growth of the whole city, supported by the full council and representing all wards. I believe it is vital for the growth of Hallowell.

There are no other properties in Hallowell that have so many restrictions that come from years of planning. Those restrictions, and the neglect it suffered under state ownership, made it unattractive to most investors. Matt Morrill’s vision for Stevens Commons fits the goals and values laid out in the comprehensive plan.

Given the restrictions placed on it, the city should be willing to help fund it. Gardiner, Augusta and Waterville see the benefits of private/public collaboration, giving financial help to private investment. We need affordable housing to attract young families. We need senior housing so our seniors can continue to live in the city they love.

With our help, Morrill will bring added housing and office space, thus growing our tax base on a property that has never paid taxes. Community Housing of Maine, the same company that renovated the Flatiron Building, a known success, has signed a purchase option and submitted a proposal to renovate one of the historic buildings into senior housing. Another building at Stevens Commons already has many professionals renting space with more coming this year. Two donors have given generous gifts, totaling $1.1 million, to the city that are contingent on the bond package passing.

Hallowell has long been known as the jewel of the Kennebec. I envision Stevens Commons at the top of the hill as the crown jewel, looking out over our beautiful little city. I urge you to vote yes on April 28.

Lynn Irish

councilor-at-large

Hallowell