To the Editor:
As another Islander reader from away, I simply couldn’t let Barbara Cusumano’s letter in last week’s paper go unanswered. I have three observations:
First, to the comment that “it all started with the cruise ships”, I assume you mean, Barbara, that the island is more crowded than formerly, which we’ve also noticed during our visits over the past decade. However, I think to conflate the cruise ships and the parking meters as some kind of nefarious plot that’s all about the Benjamins (that is, money) is simply wrong. One of the positives of the parking meters is that they prevent parkers from occupying spaces all day, enabling others to come into town and find parking. And what if Bar Harbor makes $1 million on parking? I’m sure you don’t begrudge the island money to adequately fund their schools, their police department and other public services. As a homeowner, you will want those services if needed.
Second, your comments sound to me what would be called in the ‘60’s “the ugly American” or what today is often labeled elitist. You argue that you work 10-12 hours a day and you spend $2,500 in local restaurants on your two week vacation.
To me, those two facts don’t have any bearing on your decision to not pay for parking which by your estimate would cost $140 for two weeks. Clearly, you can afford the economics of it. This may sound unkind, and my apologies if it does, but you giving up paid parking sounds like what a gun owner might term a self inflicted wound.
Third, I’d encourage you to step back and consider the reality of the island. This isn’t just simply a vacation paradise. The seasonal businesses operating here have a very short window to make their living, and as I’m sure you’ve noticed over the years, many don’t make it. There’s enough of a hunger problem here that there are two food pantries — in Bar Harbor and on the Westside. Neighbors here are helping neighbors. Bar Harbor’s average income is one third that of Marlton, N.J. There’s economic struggle here, yet the community welcomes us to share this most beautiful spot. And they do that even though I’m sure late June feels like a plague of locusts is descending.
Finally, my wish is that your vacation makes you see that $2 an hour for parking is a small thing while the beauty of this place and the graciousness of its residents is a big thing and the wonder of that is something that both visitors and residents can appreciate.