LEWISTON – After more than three years of discussions and payments of more than $250,000 for a consultant, Joseph Davis State Park Local Development Corp. is being dissolved.
The group’s attorney, Michael J. Townsend, of the Harris Beach law firm, said Tuesday that the paperwork to start the group’s dissolution began this week.
Last week, the State Authorities Budget Office censured the group for not providing information about activities and spending.
Townsend and Louis Giardino, president of Construction Economists of America of Rochester, who is the management consultant for Joseph Davis State Park LDC, said that their salaries were paid by the Town of Lewiston but that the board itself was a volunteer organization with no assets and no funding.
With no spending, they said, there was nothing to report, and it made no sense to hire an auditor and file a spending report with the state.
“It’s not necessary to hire a public accountant to say ‘zero,’ ” Giardino said of the censure.
“There wasn’t even a checking account. It was not misappropriated or mishandled.”
He said the dissolution plan came when “the town officials realized that we really are not likely to accomplish the real mission that the LDC was created under, and the consensus was that if that was the case, it was not necessary to keep the board together.”
Giardino said that in the beginning, there was a projected budget and a mission to do a number of projects at the 375-acre state park, which at one time included a hotel and conference center. But after two years of meetings, he said, the volunteer board was never able to move past the discussion stage.
“The mission of the LDC was to provide bonding opportunities to do large-scale improvements,” Giardino said of the town’s plan to improve the state-owned park, but added, “In that time, the Town of Lewiston has become weary of politics and had their patience tested.”
Giardino said his firm was hired to develop a plan for strategies to get the project under way.
He said the original agreement between the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Lewiston, to allow the town to manage what the board had called a neglected park, is still in place.
“The town has been maintaining the park for the last two years under an agreement between the Town of Lewiston and State Parks,” Giardino said.
“All the time that this planning has gone on, the town has continued to maintain it.”
In the meantime, even without an LDC, the town continues to work to develop its updated master plan for the park with one project, the Audubon Society’s $350,000 habitat restoration, to restore shoreline habitats for resident and migratory birds. The project is funded by federal and national programs.
Other projects in the master plan include a kayak launch and a boat launch.
“I’m not saying the projects are dead,” Giardino said, “but there is no reason for an LDC, which was basically a planning function.”