Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 3, 2019
Former selectman looks back on 12 years of service
Gus Basile leads the Castine Board of Selectmen meeting for the last time on November 5. Basile served on the board for 12 years.
by Monique Labbe
Between an entire Main Street renovation and the addition of a children’s room at Witherle Memorial Library, Gus Basile saw a great deal of projects come to fruition during his time as a member of the Castine Board of Selectmen.
Basile stepped down from the board in November, after serving the town as a selectman for 12 consecutive years. His work was never a “one man show,” he pointed out, but a continued team effort between him and his cohorts on the board, as well as the town managers he worked with through the years.
“It’s never been just about me,” said Basile. “I’ve been really fortunate to have good selectmen working with me. We may not have always agreed, but we always worked with each other.”
Most of the 12 years Basile spent on the board was with longtime selectmen David Unger and Peter Vogell. In addition to completely renovating the infrastructure of Main Street, Basile said one of the things he has been happy to see in his time on the board is the improved relationship between the town and Maine Maritime Academy.
“When I first got on the board with Peter and David, the relationship between the town and the academy was really abysmal. When [academy president] Bill [Brennan] came in, things slowly started changing,” he said. “Now, the selectmen attend board of trustees meetings there, we participate in Convocation. It has been really wonderful to see that change.”
Basile and his wife Ruth came to Castine in 1960, in a time when the town boasted two grocery stores, a pharmacy, and two car dealerships.
“You could buy a Ford or a Chevy, your groceries, anything you needed, all without leaving town,” said Basile. “Then things started changing. Now one of the biggest businesses in town is rentals. There are over 100 houses available for rent in town.”
Housing rentals in the historic district of town is one concern Basile has after stepping down as a selectman.
“People are buying these houses to rent to six, seven people at a time,” he said. “I just hope that nothing happens to them because they are beautiful houses, and when you start talking about rentals you’re talking about fire escapes and things like that.”
Despite his concerns, Basile said that he is happy with the current board that has been assembled, and he is confident they will continue to do the work in the best interest of the town.
“It was time,” said Basile on his decision to retire from the board. “It was certainly different, at first, to be on the other side of the table when I went to a meeting for the first time as a resident a couple weeks ago. It’s a different view from there.”