To the Editor:
Are you as confused as I am about the status of the abandoned ferry terminal property, the upcoming vote and the choices we, as a town, must confront in the months ahead? This unresolved issue, which generated so much discussion and controversy last year, appeared to have gone underground until just recently.
I have been trying to inform myself of what is happening, but it’s confusing!
Here’s what I think I know.
The ferry terminal advisory committee the town put together last fall to explore the options for the property concluded that a multipurpose marina would be the most appropriate use for that waterfront. The council accepted that recommendation and sent it to B&A, (the firm the town has worked with for years to develop a plan for the property) to develop a business plan. B&A will now present their response on Monday, May 14. This public meeting, a special Town Council meeting, will convene at 7 p.m. at Mount Desert Island High School. I hope that many will attend so as to better inform themselves and to continue the productive discourse that brought people together last fall.
On June 12, the citizens of Bar Harbor will go to the polls to vote whether to purchase the ferry terminal property on Eden Street from the MDOT for $3.5 million dollars. Those funds are to purchase, not develop, the property. “Yes” or “no.” But perhaps not as simple as it sounds.
If the town votes to purchase the property, there are many unresolved issues: how to develop the property, who will control and oversee the use of the property, and who will pay for its development? And what if the town votes not to purchase the property? Environmental concerns and zoning restrictions rendered the property undesirable before the MDOT purchased it. Would the new local zoning which passed in June 2017 make it now more attractive and marketable to outside interests? What does this scenario look like?
The complexity of the consequences of the upcoming vote deserves more public discussion if we are to make an informed vote next month. Fortunately, there is an opportunity to learn more on Monday night. Please, let’s reopen this conversation in a collaborative and informative manner so as to better understand how this will impact our community in the years ahead.