By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - A local businessman wants to help stimulate the economy by focusing attention on Lake Wassookeag. Joel Costonis, 30, who owns an asset management firm, intends to ask the Dexter Town Council at their 7 p.m. meeting on Thursday to consider granting him a 10-year renewable lease on the town-owned campground on Lake Wassookeag. Costonis would like to construct 8-12 overnight cabins on the property and rent them out to visitors, as a draw to the region.
"We need to plant a seed," the former president of the Dexter Regional Development Corp. said Monday. The lake is an asset to the town and should be used as a centerpiece, he said. His primary objective, he said, is to increase interest in the region, to bring people to the lake.
This town is in trouble, budgetwise, Costonis said. Despite tight fiscal constraints, he said about $5,000 was spent by the town last year to maintain the property, yet only about $400 was received in revenue from its use. The town cannot continue to absorb losses of about $4,600 annually, he explained.
To help bridge that gap and to lessen the burden on taxpayers, Costonis has proposed that the town privatize the care of the property that extends from the back of Lakeshore Lunch to the lake.
In no way does Costonis want to limit access to the property. In fact, he said, the town's deed stipulates that inhabitants will have continued use of the public beach and camping area and under no circumstances will town residents be prohibited from the property.
If the town council is receptive to the move, Costonis said he would pay a lease fee, construct the cabins to enhance the appeal of the campground, landscape the area, remove the trash, police the property at least twice a day, install security cameras outside the bathhouses to help curb vandalism, improve lighting and within 18 months install faucets that work on the infrared system in the bathhouses. He also would sponsor boat races, fishing contests and other events.
Costonis said even with the construction of the cabins, which would have no kitchen facilities, there would be room on the property for continued recreational vehicle parking and tenting.
His proposal is contingent upon town council and planning board approval.
"I want to make my contribution [to the town]," Costonis said. "I want family, I want fun, if I make a dollar, that's great. I'm looking to operate a fun operation." Dexter businessman to air plan to stimulate use of Lake Wassookeag facilities at town council meeting Thursday.
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