Some call it Option 2, but I call it “lipstick on a pig.”

In early 2016, MDOT presented a flawed “downtown improvement” plan to Wiscasset, packaging it with slick computer graphics and promises of up to $400K in “amenities.”

Duped by false promises and “freebies,” Option 2 was initially selected over two others in a non-binding vote in June. Later, it was revealed that MDOT had purposely suppressed serious flaws in Option 2 to ensure it won the vote.

We learned that our thriving downtown business district would be severely impacted by the removal of on-street parking, while Option 2 offered nothing over Option 1 with regard to improved traffic flow or pedestrian safety. The issue was again put to vote in June 2017, when an informed majority rejected Option 2, this time in a binding vote.

The town attempted to renegotiate the project with MDOT to ensure that the economic viability and livability of its historic downtown was protected, while preserving traffic flow and pedestrian safety/ADA improvements.

While this was going on, MDOT instructed bidders not to apply for a town demolition permit for the historic Haggett building, even though MDOT was fully aware that it and a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission was required per local ordinances.

The town was forced to halt the demolition by court injunction.

Since November, town lawyers have tried to work with MDOT lawyers in good faith to reach a negotiated solution that worked for everyone. Instead, MDOT has further modified its plan, which now removes all Main Street parking and most of the loading zones and side street parking, while replacing only half of the lost parking in a remote lot, with construction running through peak tourist season and beyond.

Private citizens and property owners, such as myself, have pledged to pay for the lawsuit in its entirety, so it will not cost the town a dime to continue its rightful suit. Send a clear message to MDOT that they are not above the law and we won’t be bullied. Vote “Yes” on April 17.

James Kochan
Wiscasset