BAR HARBOR — Last week’s zoning vote allowed the town to continue working toward development of the former international ferry terminal property, but town officials still face a tricky balance between incorporating public input and meeting a November deadline for purchasing the property.
“We did have a vote, and we have to move on,” council Chair Paul Paradis said, “but moving on doesn’t mean you don’t listen.”
Public visioning sessions will be scheduled in July, Town Manager Cornell Knight said, per an acquisition and development strategy developed by counsultant Louis Ajamil and adopted by the council in March. A formal business plan needs to be complete and adopted in November.
“We need to come up with a process that’s going to address people’s concerns,” Councilor Gary Friedmann said, citing the long, contentious campaign leading up to the zoning vote.
“It’s not clear that everyone thought they were definitely going to get a cruise ship terminal out of it. We’ve got to make these people feel we’re really looking hard at the options.”
If previous studies indicated that a cruise ship pier is the only financially viable way for the town to develop the property, he said, those findings should be presented to the public again.
“There may be questions that were answered in 2012 that need to be answered again,” Councilor Steve Coston said.
“We will discuss other options at the visioning sessions,” Councilor Matt Hochman said, “along with how we pay for it, which most likely will be a berthing facility.”
Councilor Peter St. Germain said it will be important for interested residents to “engage in the development of the plan in a positive way, rather than sitting in the wings and not agreeing with anything.”
The Maine Department of Transportation is the current owner of the property and hopes to sell it to the town.
The price is $2.5 million, or $2 million if at the time of the exercise of the option, the town has “developed a formally approved viable business plan” and has “a developer and/or funding committed to the implementation of the business plan,” according to the language of the option agreement.