Thursday, December 5, 2013
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Connie Bellet, center, president of the Living Communities Foundation, and husband Phil Frizzell work in the Palermo Community Garden near the American Legion Post 163 on Sunday. Volunteers Mike Dunn and Ron Rudolph work in background. Bellet says the Legion has threatened to turn the garden into a parking lot despite a long-time lease on the property.
Staff photo by David Leaming
Evans said Sunday that the lease authorizes the couple only to have the mobile home, a storage shed, room for mobile home additions and space for entering and exiting. He said the lease does not authorize the several storage sheds and garden that are there now.
The Legion post has grown and needs to expand its parking lot, he said.
“There are more facts that surround this, but the Legion doesn’t want to be in the position of slinging mud and making accusations,” he said.
Bellet is a former president of the local Legion auxiliary and Frizzell is a Legion member and service officer who has paid his dues for life. But their relationship with the Legion is anything but amicable.
They started the gardens 14 years ago and added a grape arbor and three garden sheds.
At the site Sunday, Linda Grant, a U.S. Army veteran who helps sort and distribute the food, said if the gardens are destroyed, there will be less food for the needy.
“I’ve seen people in here with children in their arms and they’re in a rough spot, you can tell,” she said.
Dunn, who planned to spend the night, said destroying a community garden defies rational behavior.
“Maine has a tradition of gardening,” he said. “People in Maine garden to produce food to get through the winter. For them to do this in the middle of the harvest season is irrational. There can’t be any pressing need.”
Robert Marks, a lawyer representing Bellet and Frizzell, sent a letter to York, dated Aug. 2, saying if the Legion demolishes the garden and sheds, they will file a lawsuit against the Legion and all individuals involved “claiming breach of contract, destruction of personal property, trespass, intentional infliction of mental distress and harassment.
“Damages claimed, if granted, will likely make my clients the owner of your land and buildings and will put your own and others’ personal assets at risk,” the letter says.
Amy Calder — 861-9247