Editorial: Nuts and bolts

Northeast Harbor is abuzz about whether, or when, the village’s Main Street will be rebuilt. Accurate news of the project and the related citizen petition appear to have been overshadowed by rumor and mistrust. “Who’s on first?”

Mount Desert voters approved the reconstruction project earlier this year. The town’s selectmen do not have the authority to reconsider that decision, in effect undoing an official vote. But the town meeting warrant article detailed only two things: that the project would happen and a maximum budget. Everything else, including the details currently being debated about the water main under the street and the location of the utility lines overhead, is open for discussion and future action.

Meanwhile, a citizen petition has been filed seeking to delay the project while making other changes. Selectmen are set to officially respond to the petition by resolution on or before Aug. 15.

If questions were not resolved, or issues overlooked in the project planning to date, now is the time to seek answers. Does the water main need to be replaced? If it’s not replaced during the road work, how much more expensive will it be to do later as a stand-alone project? What are the costs and benefits of routing utility lines on a different street vs. underground?

The request to delay the project until a number of private landowners complete planned renovations and new buildings seems unreasonable. As for an expectation that a road can ever be rebuilt without temporary inconvenience to residents and business owners, ask Southwest Harbor.

“Animosity between summer people and our year-round friends over this project” was cited at last week’s Summer Residents’ Association meeting. But voters at Town Meeting in May, who are registered to vote because they live here year-round, were split 98-71 on the question.

Both camps are welcome to make their case to summer neighbors, who have voice but no vote on the issues.

There’s time for everyone to weigh in and be heard, but constructive debate should focus on the nuts and bolts, not personal fault-finding.



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