” I always thought that if you own a piece of property and follow the law, you should be able to manage it as you want. It’s unbelievable that the press can write whatever it wants without even asking us to clarify our position,” said an upset Kelly Williams, this afternoon concerning the one-sided assault on the front page of the “Portland Press Herald,” by Randy Billings today and another assault in “The Forecaster” by David Harry last week. “This is bias reporting.”
The “Forecaster” article named Kelly Williams and her husband, Walt, in the front page article, but failed to reach out to them for their input on the controversy.
At home recovering from foot surgery earlier this year, the attractive Williams said that no one from the print media or television media had reached out to her to hear her side of their plans to convert the home in which she, her husband Walt and their daughter have lived in for fourteen (14) years. “This is our home and we want to stay here,” she said. “I’m just glad that my daughter is away in college and does not have to experience this.”
“This is not a historic home as some people claim. It is old, but that does not make it historic. Munjoy Hill is full of old homes, but they are not historic either,” said an emotional Kelly, who is from Portland and grew up here.
Kelly and her husband Walt considered bringing it up to code, but after consulting with experts, decided it would be less expensive to start from scratch. They could not get a loan they could afford to pay back. Often when renovations are done on old homes, there are “surprises” involved she said. Those surprises have the potential to increase the renovation costs substantially. Although Kelly and Walt have been characterized as “developers” by the media they are not she said. “We own rental properties in Portland, but we are not developers. We have never developed anything.”
An immediate neighbor of the Williams family, Carol Stillwell said that she is opposed to the conversion. Ms. Stillwell said she’s concerned about safety issues – such as the safety of her retaining wall and that the architecture doesn’t fit into the neighborhood. Stillwell said she’s afraid of cracked foundations and collapsing retaining walls. “I found out about their plans at a New Year’s Eve party. A neighbor told me about it. Not a nice way to find out about it.”
Maggie Wolf, the other immediate neighbor who has lived on St. Lawrence Street for 3 l/2 years and rents from her mother who owns the residence, said that she and a few others in the neighborhood have been working with the city on the “condo craze” that has overcome Munjoy Hill. Wolf said the Williams home survived the Great Fire of 1866. “I hope it survives the condo craze.”
Kelly said that she and her husband have been working on this conversion for over a year now. The couple has invested a lot of time and money in this. They signed a contract with a local architect over a year ago to design the condominium. One of the planned units in the proposed condominium project is expected to be rental.
“Don’t change the rules or move the goal posts in the middle of the game,” said Kelly to this blogger today. She was referring to a reference in the local daily that Councilor Belinda Raw is considering a moratorium that could have a negative impact on their housing plans. In other words, neither Raw, Randy or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer bothered to notify the Williams family that such a moratorium is a work-in-progress They have not been advised how they would be affected by such a moratorium and that the proposal will be on an upcoming city council agenda. That news came as a shock – a total shock to Kelly – when she read it in the daily local today. She was blindsided by the information in the paper not having received a “heads up” it was coming. “I don’t know what is going to happen now. We don’t protest about anything. We just mind our own business and want it to stay that way,” concluded a very emotional Kelly.
(note: One dictionary definition of “historic” found by this blogger is: ‘Having importance in or influence on history.” This blogger could find no evidence that either of these buildings have contributed to history except than they are old. For example, neither George Washington nor Governor Baxter slept at either of the two buildings.)
Please visit post herein dated November 2, 2017 for information on a city-required meeting.