To the Editor:
How can the Bar Harbor Town Council justify its decision to allow more cruise ship activity in 2018 to see if the stress is manageable, like a test? The only rationale I’ve seen given in the pages of this newspaper is for economic growth. But there are different kinds of economic growth. It can’t be assumed that it’s all good.
When I imagine a balance sheet for the visits of cruise ships in Bar Harbor, on the one side there is the expected income. On the other side are the costs.
Some costs can be given monetary value, like the cost of insurance, police, increased use of water and trash collection, probably not exceeding the expected income.
But I see other costs that cannot be given a monetary value.
The costs I see are first, loss of view, the visual obstruction of the cruise ships into an otherwise non-manmade horizon.
Second, the increased crowding in Bar Harbor, making it difficult for persons not on the cruise ships to do their ordinary errands.
Third is the stress on the marine environment, which may prove very costly in the long run.
Fourth, there may be some indefinable shift as we become more of a backdrop for escorted travelers and less of a self-sufficient economy.
These costs are difficult to estimate, since they resist measurement. They are parts of our environment that have value, and should not be bargained away thoughtlessly.
I hope the Bar Harbor Town Council can keep the whole picture in mind as they plan the future for the town and cruise ships, and not take risks with our quality of life.