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Company halts plans for world's tallest flagpole and memorial park Down East

The Flagpole of Freedom would stand 1,461 feet tall, slightly larger than the Empire State Building.
Rendering courtesy of Flagpole of Freedom Park/Black Fly Media
The Flagpole of Freedom would have stood 1,461 feet tall, slightly larger than the Empire State Building.

A Washington County business is dropping plans to build the world's tallest flagpole and patriotic park in rural Down East Maine.

The family behind Wreaths Across America has been talking for several years about building a massive, billion-dollar memorial park for veterans in the small town of Columbia Falls. The centerpiece of this park would have been a pole taller than the Empire State Building flying an American flag large enough to cover one and a half football fields.

But attorney Tim Pease said the Worcester family has decided to drop plans for the Flagpole of Freedom project after carefully considering the views of the local community. Pease said the Worcester family wanted to be a good neighbor to residents in and around Columbia Falls, where the project had garnered some support but also raised concerns about the scale and impact of the proposal.

"The family, after careful reflection, listening to the community and weighing all of the different viewpoints, they decided to not pursue the Flagpole of Freedom project as it was envisioned," Pease said.

Pease said the Worcester family has no plans to pursue the project anywhere else at this time.

"They don't have any specific proposals or ideas right now," Pease said on Monday. "But they have a history of always looking for opportunities to honor veterans. And that hasn't changed with stopping this project. They are always on the lookout for ways to honor veterans."

Voters in Columbia Falls approved a six-month moratoriumon large-scale development — and then subsequently extended it another six months — in response to concerns about how the Flagpole of Freedom park would impact the region located along a rural stretch of U.S. 1 between Cherryfield and Machias.

The Worcesters had predicted that as many as 6 million people might visit the park, which would also have included museums, remembrance walls for the country's 24 million deceased veterans, gondolas, restaurants and retail spaces.

But Columbia Falls has less than 500 residents. And after the moratorium, town residents never voted on a request to annex 10,000 acres for the project into the town. The annexation would have removed the Worcester-owned lands from the jurisdiction of Maine's Land Use Planning Commission, which regulates development within the Unorganized Territory. But Columbia Falls officials and residents said the small town needed time to craft ordinances to deal with such a large-scale project.

The family is a major landowner and employer in the region but is best known outside of Washington County for starting Wreaths Across America, which lays evergreen wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery and other veterans cemeteries across the country each December. The Flagpole for Freedom Park was originally envisioned as a for-profit operation.