Letter to Editor: Speak up

To the Editor:

On Tuesday, May 28, there was a meeting at Jessup Memorial Library to discuss the two articles on the ballot proposed by the citizen initiative process.

Ron Beard facilitated the meeting, and members of the Town Council were present. I unfortunately was not there, being a slacker that night, so my report is secondhand.

I’m told that a slide was presented by the town which gave a list of existing piers in Bar Harbor and their lengths. Jim O’Connell, who was present, raised his hand and was recognized by the facilitator. He is an engineer, and had measured the piers himself. Something disturbed him about the figures presented, but the facilitator dismissed further discussion and soon after declared the meeting was over.

I think at that point Jim O’Connell said, “Bulls***,” referring to the figures on the slide.

Now, I don’t have trouble with that word. I hope the Islander can print it.

I’m sorry the Islander didn’t follow up the meeting by speaking with Jim O’Connell. They only spoke with Ron Beard. But what are the facts?

If there is a discrepancy between Jim’s numbers and the town’s, what is the reason for that? Apparently, the town’s figures for the pier at the harbor and at the ferry terminal are a lot longer than Jim measured. If an existing pier, such as the town dock, were longer than 300 feet, wouldn’t it be grandfathered under current legislation?

I think as a community we have a right to limit the number of cruise ships to what is comfortable, so it doesn’t undermine our quality of life. And we should seek cruise ships of a modest length, avoiding the biggest ones that are the hardest on the environment and that have a history of environmental abuse.

How we arrive at this control of the cruise ship presence I do not know, but I don’t think a committee of a few people, many of whom are “experts,” can be trusted to protect the health of the community.

We need everyone to speak up, to take a part in the future of the island. What do the fishermen think? Their perspective hasn’t been part of the discussion that I’ve heard.

Jim O’Connell is acting responsibly to take an interest, to come to the meetings, to think about the issue. I wish more of us were doing the same.

It’s only by incorporating opinions from different perspectives that we will arrive at a higher truth on these complex issues. Let’s not be afraid of differing opinions.

Judith Blank

Bar Harbor

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