By Samuel Shepherd, Special to the Islander
BAR HARBOR — The head of a new resident’s association here threatened to sue the town and urged a boycott of businesses over a June zoning vote that could allow a cruise ship berthing dock to be built at the former international ferry terminal property.
Charles Sidman, the founder of the association, kicked off a Tuesday meeting of the Bar Harbor Town Council by saying a pier that could berth large ships “would blight the irreplaceable beauty of our region and Acadia National Park.”
“Our initial line of defense will be legal action,” Sidman said. “Far-reaching publicity like that in last weekend’s Boston Globe and social media and fundraising campaigns with the general theme of ‘Join and donate for preservation and boycott the abusers,’ will begin shortly…We estimate that we can and ultimately will enroll tens of thousands in our campaign of resistance.”
The Town Council also confirmed nominations for each of four new ferry terminal property advisory subcommittees (see related story).
Councilor Paul Paradis opposed all four slates, citing the nomination of Charles Sidman to one of the subcommittees and saying he was “uncomfortable appointing folks who threaten us with legal actions unless we agree with their point of view.”
Sidman’s comments were criticized heavily by the council, with Councilor Gary Friedmann calling them “off-base.”
“My hope would be, after a thorough discussion and a town vote, all of those involved in the controversy would agree that they’re going to live with the decision made by the voters,” he said.
Friedmann noted that a member of the town’s warrant committee is a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in July by shorefront property owners William Ruger and James Blanchard in an attempt to overturn the June vote that created zoning to allow a maritime facility at the ferry terminal property. That suit was cited by Sidman as “the first of” several potential legal actions.
Friedmann said the lawsuit is “going to cost us thousands of dollars in staff time and an untold amount in attorney’s fees.”
“If that’s how people want to spend their time and money in this town, that’s their prerogative, but I find it offensive and counterproductive,” he said.
Timeline and roster for ferry terminal property advisory committee
Over the coming weeks, a large group of residents will be engaged in a guided process to evaluate and rank potential public uses for the former ferry terminal property on Eden Street. The new ferry terminal property advisory committee is considering four broad options for uses at that site: a pier with berthing for cruise ships, a pier with tendering for cruise ships, other marine uses and all other possible uses including outcomes if the town does not purchase the property.
In August, councilors unanimously approved $53,025 from cruise ship funds to be used for the process, which will be led by Elizabeth Swain of Power Engineers. Swain will work with a “lead committee” that will head up, in pairs, four subcommittees to meet biweekly beginning in September to consider topics related to uses of the property.
Each subcommittee has 10 participating members – Bar Harbor residents nominated by the leads committee and approved by the council. the meeting schedule will be posted and all meetings will be open to the public. The process is expected to be complete by Oct. 30.
Sept. 11: Public hearing with full advisory committee, 5:30 p.m. in the Town Council chambers. The purpose of the meeting is to provide guidance to the advisory committee on the following questions to help them form a recommendation for use of the ferry terminal property:
What opportunities could be captured for Bar Harbor? What problems could be solved for Bar Harbor? What uses could be included in each option? What additional information is needed to evaluate each option?
Speakers will have three minutes each.
Sept. 18 to Oct. 23: On alternating weeks, the lead committee will meet and the subcommittees will meet.
October 30: Process concludes ahead of Town Council vote on whether to exercise an option to purchase the ferry terminal property from the state.
Cruise with pier: Scott Hammond, Ted Koffman, Jeff Dobbs*, Michael Good*, Brian Hubbell*, John Kelly*, Martha Searchfield*, Tom St. Germain*, Alf Anderson*, Darron Collins*
Cruise with tender: Heather Sorokin, Tom Crikelair, Lilea Simis*, Hook Wheeler*, Doreen Willett*, Dave Woodside*, Stephanie Clement*, Dessa Dancy*, Bob Garland*, Carol Chappel*
Maritime: Anna Durand, Joe Minutolo, Valerie Peacock*, Natalie Springuel*, Connie Berkenmeier*, Janice Hanscom*, Dennis Bracale*,Deb Page*, Autumn Soares*, Pat Samuel*
Other: Kristy Losquadro, Ruth Eveland, Scott Henggeler*, Michael Handwerk**, Andrea Drennan**, Tom Burton**, Jeff Wooster**, Joel Liscott**, Charlie Sidman**, Lenny Demuro***
Alternates: Kristi Bond***, Chris Maller***, Pancho Cole***, James Collier***
Leads indicated in bold
*Names given by the lead committee
**Names given by leads Anna Durand/Scott Henggeler after request for more names
***Chosen by Appointments Committee