Public projects often proceed in fits and starts. After years of effort, the Town of Southwest Harbor finally purchased the gravel parking area adjacent to the Manset town dock. Voters approved the purchase in a landslide vote (98-6) at a well-attended special town meeting last fall.
As town officials contemplate what’s next, traditional and habitual uses will compete with new ideas. Officials will weigh competing interests as they seek to advance their goals.
Immediately following the town meeting vote last year, new development ideas were floated including an expanded dinghy dock to serve the town’s mooring field, new permanent public restrooms and a new harbormaster’s office.
The property also features in long-range planning to improve and increase parking in the town, an acute issue in the summer and especially this year.
Planning for the property is in its early stages and it’s the right time for interested parties to weigh in.
Only a few of the town’s lobstermen use the Manset dock to access their boats. Several sell their catch there at the end of the day, and the buyers’ refrigerated trucks must be left running to keep the refrigerators going.
It is probably not possible to completely segregate commercial and recreational uses, build a circular driveway to avoid trucks’ backing beeps, or for the town to provide visual screening with a hedge.
But there’s nothing wrong with any of these suggestions being brought forward. Residents, property owners and business owners on all sides of the issue are to be commended for speaking up and engaging in the local planning process.