Hallowell should vote yes on Friday’s bond referendum. I served for five years as a councilor. We struggled with many of the issues this bond addresses: Water Street reconstruction, downtown parking, rural roadwork, and supporting redevelopment of the Stevens School complex.

During that time, the council was considering purchasing the school property to keep it from falling further into disrepair. Unfortunately, the state demanded free rent if the city purchased the property, a factor in scuttling the agreement. Then, to attract potential buyers, the Prerelease Center was moved out and one after another the state agencies relocated, leaving the property vacant and deteriorating. The value of the property plummeted.

Fortunately, a respected local developer, Matt Morrill, stepped forward to purchase the property and work to put it on the tax rolls for the first time in history. He has asked for the city’s help in this effort by accepting ownership of the roadways and then rebuilding them along with improving water and sewer services. In exchange, Mr. Morrill will deed an 8-acre parcel of open space adjacent to the new Howard Hill reserve and put an additional 20 acres under conservation easements. He has already begun redevelopment. Offices are being occupied and senior/affordable housing proposed with a purchase and sale agreement in place. The work envisioned in the bond proposal will only serve to accelerate the redevelopment with no risk to the city.

I’ve heard the call for splitting the bond package and provide voters the chance to choose. We had that choice through the election process. We chose our representatives. They worked hard.

I applaud the council’s decision to unite the citywide projects into one, coordinated, well-reasoned initiative. I believe this serves to unite our city in a path to progress rather than pit one district or faction against another.

Gail S. Wippelhauser

Hallowell