BAR HARBOR — The town’s Cruise Ship Committee increased in size from 16 to 17 members following a public hearing and Town Council action last week to amend the cruise ship ordinance.
The additional seat, for a person “of working knowledge of the cruise industry in Maine,” will go to Amy Powers, a former director of CruiseMaineUSA and founder of MaineCruisePro. The ordinance already specifies a seat for a representative of CruiseMaine, but Powers is no longer working for that group.
Gail Conrad, a resident of Bar Harbor, expressed her concern that Powers was not a “voting resident in Bar Harbor.”
“I think anyone serving on a town committee and [voting] on that committee should be a resident of Bar Harbor, in addition to whatever [other] qualities they have,” Conrad said.
Resident Anne Marie Quin cited the Bar Harbor Code of Ethics in her statement, asking whether the addition of Powers could breach the code.
“Is this town being run for the year-round residents? Or is it being run for the cruise ship industry?” Quin said. “Industry people could be brought in as nonvoting consultants but should not serve on the board as voting members.”
Those ethics rules prohibit committee members from voting, deliberating or taking part in the decision-making process “on any agenda item in which they or a member of their immediate family has a financial or special interest.”
Councilor Matt Hochman said he was in favor of keeping Powers on the committee but wanted to add another seat for a Bar Harbor resident in the future.
“Her involvement so far is vital to what we’re trying to do with the ferry terminal and ongoing cruise ship operations,” Hochman said. “I still believe we should increase it to 18 [members] and add a resident of Bar Harbor at large to the committee.”
Hochman made that suggestion at a previous meeting, but the motion failed.
“I think the Cruise Ship Committee has been formulated to bring expertise from the maritime and cruise ship industry to give the town the best information possible on how to accommodate cruise ships,” Councilor Gary Friedmann said.
He said nearly everyone on the committee has “economic interest” in cruise ship matters and called singling out Powers “not fair.”
“I don’t think it’s going to sway the Town Council, and I don’t think it will sway the voters,” Friedmann added.
Councilor Erin Early Ward thought the committee was getting too large, and the heavily industry-based makeup of the committee could affect the “balance” of the advisory process.
Councilor Stephen Coston was not worried about the ethics of Powers’ seat on the committee, because the committee doesn’t have any decision-making power.
“Nobody is trying to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes and say the Cruise Ship Committee isn’t a bunch of people involved in cruise ships,” Coston said. “I think that’s kind of the point.”