Published Date Written by Barbara TetreaultBERLIN –Tri County Community Action Program wants to spin off the Northern Forest Heritage Park and is talking to the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce about that organization taking over the
Todd Fahey, the court-appointed trustee overseeing TCCAP, said the park is not aligned with the organization's core mission. It is also not self-supporting at a time when TCCAP is facing financial
In December, the First Circuit Probate Court approved an emergency petition from the Charitable Trust Division of the state Attorney General's office to suspend TCCAP's board of directors and appoint Fahey because of concerns about the organization's ability to continue to provide services. Fahey said TCCAP is reviewing its programs and making adjustments to its operations.
One decision is to discontinue TCCP's involvement with the NFHP. Fahey said TCCAP is seeking another entity to own and/or operate the park. He said he understands the importance of the park to the region.
"It's a resource to be preserved and we're trying hard to do that," he said.
Fahey on Friday confirmed that TCCAP officials have talked to the chamber about having that organization take over the park, which includes an outdoor amphitheater and a full-size replica logging camp on three acres of land along the Androscoggin River on upper Main Street.
At last week's city council meeting, Councilor Diane Nelson, who is also a member of the chamber, reported officials from the city, chamber, TCCAP, Brookfield Power, and Northway Bank met last month to discuss the chamber taking over the park. Northway Bank is involved because TCCAP has used the park as collateral for bank financing.
The discussions do not include the Brown House or the former Brown Company Research Building, which are also owned by TCCAP.
Fahey said TCCAP has many advance reservations for parties and events at the park and expects to honor them. He said Dick Huot continues to oversee the park for TCCAP. In a press release, Fahey said TCCAP will work to make the "transition seamless for those who have scheduled events there in the upcoming months and who enjoy this community resource."
TCCAP has a long history of involvement with the park. Former TCCAP Executive Director Larry Kelly was one of the founders of the park back in 1994 and helped set up the non-profit entity that accepted the Brown House and riverfront property from Crown Vantage.
The NFHP was able to attract federal grants to construct the logging camp and amphitheater but throughout its existence it has had trouble raising funds to cover day-to-day operations.
In 2006, the NFHP turned to TCCAP for staffing and management when the only full-time employee resigned and the park was in peril. Three
years later, the NFHP board of directors voted to dissolve their 501c3 nonprofit tax-exempt organization and become part of TCCAP.