BAR HARBOR — Public access to Frenchman Bay and environmental protection were at the forefront of a public comment session Monday hosted by the new ferry terminal property advisory committee.
Former Town Council Chair Ruth Eveland heads the committee, which is tasked with evaluating options for use of the 121 Eden St. property. The town has contracted with Elizabeth Swain of consulting firm Power Engineers to facilitate the process.
The committee will make a recommendation to the council before a November vote on whether the town will exercise an option to purchase the property from the Maine Department of Transportation.
The council chambers were full for the meeting, but the meeting was less contentious than others on the topic have been this year.
“I’ve been at a lot of meetings where the feeling wasn’t so good,” resident Ann Damm said, “and I finally feel like we’re coming together.”
Resident Ken Colburn encouraged the committee to ask what new problems could be created by each of the development options being considered for the property and what current problems could be solved.
Many of those who commented said they would like to see a public boat launch or marina.
“Visitors aren’t coming to shop in Bar Harbor,” Hulls Cove resident Bo Greene said. “They’re coming to be in [Acadia National Park], and then they shop in Bar Harbor. I think that having those boats that are so enormous so close to this land, to this rock, is just really undesirable. And if it means that some of the great big giant ships don’t come here, great. The desire to have more people is disturbing to me.”
Hancock resident James Patterson suggested private donations could make up part of the cost if the town decided on a use that could not “pay for itself” by generating revenue.
Four subcommittees are examining potential uses of the property and will have their first meetings next week. On Monday, Sept. 18, the “pier with berthing” subcommittee meets at 4 p.m. and the “maritime use” subcommittee meets at 6 p.m. The “other uses” subcommittee meets Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m. and the “pier with tendering” subcommittee meets Thursday, Sept. 21, at 4 p.m. All meetings are open to the public and will have opportunity for public comment. Schedules and committee rosters also are posted on the town website.