BAR HARBOR — Excitement about potential uses for the former ferry terminal property on Eden Street during a committee site visit last week was balanced with continuing concern about congestion in town and protecting natural resources.
About 30 members of the ferry terminal property advisory committee and subcommittees met at the property Sep. 27. Town Manager Cornell Knight introduced the event, saying that the whole facility could be demolished, but some parts of the pier could be salvaged.
The main building was littered with keys, flooring tiles and Nova Scotia tourism pamphlets from 2003. The pier, originally off-limits until someone found a way around the fence, was captivatingly run down and taken over by seagulls.
“Potential is off the chart,” said Joe Minutolo, co-chair of the marine use subcommittee. “Bar Harbor really needs to do something with it; it could be a great asset to town.”
He said his dream for the property would include a marina, an information center and a queuing area for buses. Cruise ship tenders could be split up, some landing at the terminal and some in downtown Bar Harbor.
“Our residents really need more, our town really needs more,” Minutolo said. “We’ve got congestion problems here. The residents don’t like it, and the tourists don’t like it. This might be a good opportunity to correct some of those things.”
Town Councilor Matt Hochman, who has been to most of the subcommittee meetings, said he was impressed with the residents of Bar Harbor taking part in the advisory process.
“It’s allowing people to really discuss what’s going on and formulate ideas,” he said. “There has been some really good discussion. Right now, from what I’ve heard, there are no ‘leanings.’ They’re taking their jobs really seriously and not jumping to any conclusions. It’s still early in the process.”
Two days later, the lead committee met with Lt. Matt Capon of the U.S. Coast Guard Inspections Division and Rich Pruitt of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) to discuss “inspections and environmental protocols.”
Discussion ranged from pollution caused by anchored ships to the safest way to tender passengers. Plans for amenities in the facilities were floated, such as a retail facility like an airport duty free, but committee member Heather Sorokin said that “commerce from downtown” was essential to the town.
Another concern was the size and capacity of cruise ships.
Pruitt said the biggest cruise ships aren’t getting bigger, but the average size of ships is increasing.
Residents and committee members were worried about the congestion and strain on public transportation. Donna Karlson commented that Bar Harbor may not have means to support more tourists travelling around town.
“We don’t have room for more roads,” Karlson said. “I’ve noticed tour buses in my family neighborhood.”