A $500,000 boost for Milo, one year after devastating fire

Grant to be used for downtown, which lost five buildings

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff
Bangor Daily News, Thursday, October 22, 2009

MILO, Maine — The town received a big boost this week with the announcement of a $500,000 grant to help rebuild the downtown, which was destroyed by arson on Sept. 14, 2008.

The rural business development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency was sought by the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council on Milo’s behalf.

“I’m really excited for the town,” Town Manager Jeff Gahagan said Wednesday. “This may give us the opportunity to start to rebuild the downtown.”

Five buildings were destroyed and another business was heavily damaged in last year’s fire.

At least three of the business owners affected do not plan to rebuild, and Hobnobber’s Pub has relocated elsewhere in town. The Milo House of Pizza has since been renovated and is back in operation.

The grant will allow the town to complete its purchase of the properties destroyed by the fire, construct a facility with the aim of creating jobs in the community, and develop a marketing plan for the downtown, according to a news release from Kenneth Woodbury Jr., the council’s community development specialist.

“The new building on the fire site would be constructed according to the developer’s specifications within the limits of the grant,” Woodbury said.

Thomas Kittredge, the council’s executive director, will meet with the Milo Business Association to work with it on rebuilding the downtown, according to Woodbury. The public will be invited to offer its suggestions at a public forum, he added.

A request for proposals will be issued to attract developers, and as soon as a suitable project has been identified and approved by town officials, construction can begin, Woodbury said.

Milo has already received a state riverfront bond grant of $221,000 for new parks along the Sebec River, a $150,000 federal business enterprise grant for a new Main Street streetscape and facade improvements for downtown businesses, and a $340,000 federal Safe Streets grant, according to Woodbury.

Gahagan said town officials appreciate the work the council has provided the town.