Trying to work with the neighbors

By Jeff Gammelin

I wish to counter the libelous accounts of our activities in Hall Quarry and those involved in opposing our right to continue responsible granite quarrying there.

Before Freshwater Stone leased Hall Quarry, we met with several owners to explain our intentions and solicit their concerns. When I personally attempted to meet with Gerry Shencavitz, he ignored my request. When I tried to reach him through work, I received a quick letter from his attorney charging harassment. I have made it abundantly and publicly clear that I am willing to meet with anyone to discuss opportunities to cooperate and coexist as responsible neighbors.

There are, in fact, several close neighbors who have informed me they are not bothered by our quarrying activities.

In contrast to the picture painted by our opponents, we have worked closely with the DEP and MSHA and have invested well over a quarter million dollars in equipment and upgrades in order to quarry in this sensitive area.

Accounts of the noise emanating from our quarry have been relentlessly exaggerated. Two examples should put to rest the credibility of our opponents.

First, at a recent Planning Board meeting, a parade of people told the board of the excessive noise we created in the quarry in 2015. This noise caused them weight loss, headaches, weight gain, poor grades in school, depression, etc. I reminded the board that we did not quarry a single block of stone in Hall Quarry in all of 2015 and have the records to prove it. Every single one of those people either invented their testimony or irresponsibly blamed noises from other sources on us.

Second, our neighbors the Shencavitzes brought in a sound expert in 2014 to test sound levels at their property. These tests were performed over a five day period and completely without our knowledge. The results, the most revealing of which were originally kept from the board, showed generally low noise levels during the most active portions of the workday. The levels were under 45 db, except for an hour either side of noon, where they still registered below 55 db. The average decibel reading at their house was under 40 db. Interestingly, there was virtually no difference in the graphed results between Saturday and Sunday when we were not quarrying and the next three workdays when we did quarry. Our equipment and work logs show that we utilized all of our equipment during those three days of quarrying. These tests, paid for by our opponents and done in secret, have never been part of their conversations about our excessive noise because they show quarrying noise levels that are well under the limits of MDEP Quiet Sound Level Limits.

With well over 200 pages of supportive documents, Freshwater Stone and Harold MacQuinn Inc. strongly maintain our established right to quarry in Hall Quarry. With this right includes the responsibility of good land stewardship and cooperative efforts to respect our neighbors. We are serious about listening to reasonable requests to minimize our impact in the surrounding area. lt is unfortunate for both sides that no one has taken us up on this offer.

Hall Quarry is a small quarry, but it is an important and final commercial source of indigenous pink granite for new and historic projects on Mount Desert Island. Just recently, this stone was used in the repair of several of our National Park bridges and was used atop Cadillac Mountain to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the donation of land from the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations that became the core of Acadia National Park. While our quarry crew may be relatively small, these hard-working individuals provide the stone that supports more than 50 full-time jobs with good pay and benefits.

lf this historic quarry is closed, the last viable source of pink granite on MDI will be gone forever. The selfish influence of a few people already has resulted in the permanent ban of all future quarries on Mount Desert. A living piece of our working heritage is being threatened by a small group of people who are absolutely unwilling to work together.

Jeff Gammelin is the owner of Freshwater Stone in Orland, which has rented quarry land in Hall Quarry from Harold MacQuinn Inc.

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