To the Editor:
As a year-round resident and conscientious voter, I must educate myself on issues surrounding the development of the old Bluenose ferry terminal facility and the proposed town articles. It is an important vote – made in the political context of LePage and Trump administrations prioritizing immediate and limited commercial gain with no care for general quality of life and long-term impact. Thank you for the paper’s recent reporting, editorial and letters.
The Islander‘s editorial nod to the “delight of discovery” at the sight of cruise ships made me smile. My mother brought me to Bar Harbor in the 1970s. We reserved a modest motel room, advertising a water view. We were more chagrined than delighted with our view of the terminal. I can now laugh at our dismay as I cycle past it these days.
A few years ago, a friend booked a luxury room in town, paying extra for a view of the harbor and islands, only to keep the windows shuttered to avoid the sight of the cruise ships. She has not returned, preferring towns which have preserved and promoted their more traditional businesses and appearance. Yes, tourism is up, but what is the draw and how can we develop the terminal to promote the best we have to offer?
Letter writer Christopher Strout is right to suggest that “with so little waterfront property left that is not in private hands, this [the terminal] should be owned by the town regardless of its future use.” The implications and demands of developing a year-round economy should be carefully considered, beyond the development of the terminal.
While I agree with letter writer Robert Jordan that from the time of paddle boats, Bar Harbor has attracted tourism, I think it was disingenuous to frame his argument against Article 13 as waterfront preservation. I think he undermines his argument by raising the threatening specter of a casino. Early tourists were called rusticators for a reason: the town’s tourist attractions were secondary to the island’s natural beauty and interest in traditional island life.
People might flock to the Shore Path for the occasional sight of a mega ship, but is that the view of Maine they come to Bar Harbor for? Perhaps.
I recall sitting behind cruise-ship visitors on a Loop Road Island Explorer bus who summed up their visit to the park as “I guess it is good to say we did this, but really it was just one tree after another.”
While I found letter writer Art Greif’s argument more impassioned than informative, I very much appreciate his invocation of George Dorr. After decades as a tourist, I moved to Bar Harbor to be near Acadia. I also appreciate Greif’s vision of “a multi-use maritime facility” because living here has given me a better understanding of Bar Harbor, not just as a tourist town, but also as a unique part of Maine’s maritime, farming, industrial and naturalist history.
Many of Bar Harbor’s businesses do reflect, draw on and continue to develop Mount Desert Island’s Maine-specific working and recreational traditions in innovative modern ways. I think developing contemporary businesses and job opportunities reflecting this heritage will best serve the town in the long run.
I am not interested in historical reenactments (although many are) and having been a tourist, I enjoy others’ pleasure in their visits. But I am not sure of how servicing increasing numbers of mega cruise ships (as opposed to other tourists) fits into an environmentally and economically balanced and sustainable Bar Harbor.