Unity Public Library board members Jean Bourg, right, Melissa Bastien, center, and Alex Koch in what will be the children’s room at the new library at 38 School St. in Unity Thursday. The 2,500-square-foot library occupies the first floor of the building. Upstairs is a bed and breakfast. Bourg and Bastien are co-owners of the building. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

UNITY — A request by the founders of the new Unity Public Library to appropriate $50,000 from tax increment financing funds is among the key items on the 19-article warrant of a special town meeting slated for this weekend.

The special meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at the Unity Fire Station. There’s also a public hearing planned for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Unity Snowdusters Clubhouse. This is the town’s second town meeting of 2021, split up for coronavirus pandemic safety.

“At the time there were so many restrictions on how many people could attend,” Unity Board of Selectmen Chairperson Daniel McCormick said. “We split it into the things we needed to do to keep the town running and the things we could put on hold and wait.”

Unity residents, Jean Bourg and Melissa Bastien purchased the property at 38 School St. in December of 2020 and have been renovating the space for the library. Batsien and Bourg plan on having books, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, high-speed internet and access to interlibrary loans and the Maine State Library. They also plan on hosting book discussions, book groups, educational exhibits and children’s programs.

“The library qualifies for TIF funds because of its use for job training and its value for job seekers, business people and entrepreneurs,” said Bourg, who is one of the library’s co-founders and building owners. “The TIF funds are being spent on things that strictly could move with the library if it so chooses, things like books, shelving, database access.”

Built in 2012, the library building is already wheelchair accessible and is up to town code. Bastien and Bourg are offering the entire downstairs of the property for library use at no cost to the town except for utilities. Profits from two AirBnbs upstairs will feed directly back into the library.

Bourg and Bastien have a 99-year lease and wills say the building will be donated to the library.

“I think we need the resources that it provides,” Bourg said. “A town library, just from the quality of place aspect, is a huge asset to the town.”

FIRE DEPARTMENT ORDINANCES, ELECTRONIC SIGN 

The Unity Fire Department has a handful of ordinances, including ones on cost recovery and officially recognizing the department as a municipal entity. An article of note is to appropriate and authorize the town’s municipal officers to spend up to $240,000 to purchase a fire tanker or pumper truck and related equipment by the Unity Fire Department through bonds. There’s also $40,000 in TIF requests for the project.

Unity Fire Chief Blaine Parsons at the firehouse. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file Buy this Photo

“We’ve got two vehicles that are over 35 years old, and I am trying to downsize the fleet (by) making (use of) multi-use trucks to respond to calls,” Unity Fire Chief Blaine Parsons said.

There are also two ordinances related to the fire department on the table, one about billing by the fire department for its services. The other is to make the fire department a municipal fire department and give the town’s Board of Selectmen the opportunity to appoint the fire chief for one-year terms. Parsons was voted on by members of the fire department and approved by the board every year since 2018.

The department’s proposed cost-recovery ordinance can only go into effect if they are officially a municipal department, according to McCormick.

“This is just solely to clean up some longstanding practices between the town and fire department,” McCormick said. “They’ve been operating as a municipal department for many, many years now, but we can’t find any record of the town accepting them as a municipal department. For them to continue doing business the way they are, for the legality of things, they need to be a part of the town.”

Parsons said his understanding is that the department does not need to be officially municipal to have the cost-recovery plan.

“We’ll continue working with the Board of Selectmen to get it ironed out so it’s the best for everybody,” Parsons said.

Other items of note include a vote to appropriate up to $10,000 from TIF funds for an electronic message board and a decision on authorizing adult-use marijuana retails stores, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing and testing facilities.

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