It’s about the ships

To the Editor:

How is a person supposed to vote on June 13 if she/he is opposed to increased cruise ships in Bar Harbor? Somehow we are faced with a vote in which one way is posed as “progress,” while those who oppose it are described as troublemakers from away.

I talk to a lot of people, not tourists, but year-round and seasonal residents, and I don’t hear anyone in favor of more cruise ships. A lot of people moving around not spending money is not an attractive future. Yet this viewpoint is not represented by the Town Council.

Trying to put my fears at rest and learn more about the actuality of cruise ships, I attended the events where Ross Klein, visiting faculty in sociology from St. John’s University in Newfoundland spoke. He was not, as I had been warned, funded by the cruise ships.

He turned out to be a scientist, trying to gather as many facts as he could to get the whole picture of the industry world wide, an objective observer. I learned what I hadn’t known, that the incinerators on cruise ships burn enough trash to alter the air quality. The carbon footprint of the cruise ships, where consumption is maximized, is enormous. Which makes the claim of the chamber of commerce that cruise ship passengers, not arriving by cars, are somehow “greener” not be not so true.

Klein felt we were at a crossroads as a community, where we need to decide how we want to be branded in the future. Do we want to be known as a cruise ship destination or a land-based tourist destination? The two are in competition. Are we prepared to give up the tourists we know for a new brand of tourist?

Even within the cruise ship industry, the large Carnival ships are not compatible with the smaller, high-end ships. So we have to be careful of what we invite. Fewer people with deeper pockets are a lot less stressful on the environment in general.

I know it’s unAmerican to stand in the way of business, but I fail to see that doing business with companies, many of whom are registered off-shore and pay no taxes, though they lobby in our places of political power, can be in American interests.

So what does a concerned voter do on June 13? It’s not about the ferry terminal, it’s about the cruise ships.

Judith Blank

Bar Harbor

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