'No Sale' at mill
The owner of National Wood Products in Oxford has abandoned his effort to purchase the Saunders Brothers mill in Locke Mills.
In an e-mail this week to Greenwood Town Manager Kim Sparks, Joseph Woodbury blamed primarily the intransigence of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for the deal falling through -- specifically, DEP's refusal to provide written assurance that if he were to purchase the mill he would not be held responsible for the cost of cleaning up an existing hazardous-waste site on the property.
He also complained that other state officials were unwilling to put meaningful effort into changing the DEP's position.
His e-mail to the town manager is repeated here in its entirety (paragraphing has been added for readability).
“I wish I had better news for you.
“I needed written assurances from DEP that it would not put a super lien on the mill if I purchased it. It would only give them to me verbally. Without the written assurances, the bank would not give me the money to purchase the mill.
“I tried to go the political route. I went all the way to the governor’s office. Unfortunately, nobody did anything.
“So I tried the press conference two weeks ago. Before God and country, I stated that if I didn’t get the assurances, I wouldn’t get the money, I couldn’t buy the mill, and the jobs would be lost.
“Afterwards, the loan officer got up saying if I didn’t get the assurances, he would not loan me the money, I wouldn’t be able to buy the mill, and the jobs would be lost. I don’t know how I could be anymore clear. Still, nobody did anything.
“So I couldn’t get the money from the bank.
“Bank of America would only give me until April 28 to buy the mill. On April 28, I was forced to withdraw my offer. At this point, I don’t know how much longer the mill will stay open.
“I am sorry. I tried. I really did. But it was quite evident that the state was unwilling to help. I don’t know what else I could have done.”
In a response to Woodbury, Sparks wrote:
“I commend your courage to fight this battle. I’m not sure what if anything could have been done differently on your part.
“I truly appreciate your efforts and passion. I was truly looking forward to working with you.”