Harbor study group is getting underway



SOUTHWEST HARBOR —A newly formed committee charged with making recommendations about the future of the harbor here held its first meeting Friday, but the real work is expected to begin later this month.

According to Town Manager Don Lagrange, the meeting was mostly organizational, with officers elected and the distribution of ordinances and other documents relating to the harbor and its use.

The committee, which is of an advisory nature, is expected to determine a course of action at their Aug. 31 meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. at the town office.

The motivation on the part of town officials is to bolster use of the harbor, which they have called the “economic engine” of the town. It stems from a desire to generate more revenue for both the town and the community as a whole. The harbor and the town’s three public docks are used by both fishermen and recreational boaters and attract tourist dollars as well.

Selectmen began talking about the need for the committee earlier this year. At their Aug. 9 meeting, they voted 5-0 to form the committee. Seven members were appointed and two more expected to come on board at the Aug. 31 session.

The town has hired a consultant, Noel Musson of The Musson Group, to guide the committee through the process of developing a plan for the harbor and provide members with the appropriate information so they can make informed decisions.

Musson estimates the cost of his firm’s work at $20,000. The town applied for and was awarded a $12,500 Shore and Harbor Management Grant to pay for part of the cost. The remaining $7,500 will come from the town.

According to Musson’s proposal, the goal is to produce a plan that includes an inventory of the harbor to help “identify and describe the existing needs and opportunities,” provide a compilation of the issues as determined from public meetings and interviews, a review of existing regulations and the aims of the comprehensive plan, and the development of a long-term strategy for the harbor.

At the committee meeting last week, Ryan Donahue was elected chairman. Donahue also serves as chairman of the town’s Planning Board.

John Stanley was elected vice-chairman.

The other appointed members are Ann Napier, Jim Colquhoun, Will Ratcliff and two seasonal residents, Melissa Hirsch and John Roberts.

The inclusion of seasonal residents was discussed at the selectmen’s Aug. 9 meeting, where the question was raised as to whether they could be voting members. Lagrange since received a legal opinion stating that nonresidents can serve and vote on committees that have no authority to make binding decisions. The recommendations of the committee will be sent to selectmen, who have the final say.

Ken Hutchins and Lee Worcester are to be named members of the committee at the Aug. 31 meeting, Lagrange said.

 

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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