To the Editor:
We remain diverted from creative sustainable green solutions by relying on cruise ships. The expensive survey revealed it was fun, for some, while it lasted, but the cruise ship chapter is over.
When big ships first arrived, Conners Emerson kids were released from school to join flocks of Bar Harbor citizens on the shores of Frenchmen Bay, greeting the ships. Bands played and jugglers juggled. It didn’t take long for the novelty to wear off and for reality to set in. So much misery. The size of the behemoths increased; their visits became way too many. The cruise ship industry is predatory in nature and fails to form genuine, healthy business partnerships with communities because it reduces them to “destinations.” Thousands of disoriented passengers disembark for a few hours, create consequences of crowding and contribute only chump change. Cruise ships are routinely fined millions for polluting our oceans, habitually spewing their sewage. Cruise ships abuse and enslave workers below decks providing luxuries for passengers above decks. Cruise ships are floating petri dishes for life-threatening diseases.
Why cling to a raft of excuses and insist our local economy “needs” them? Many ports, like Venice, now rely on solid, sane reasons to shun and ban them. Bar Harbor should too.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results, continued reliance on cruise ships is insane. Isn’t it time to think outside this cruise ship box? Let’s create a green pedestrian mall in downtown Bar Harbor, not just parklets. Our downtown embraces all the ingredients necessary for guaranteed success of a pedestrian mall. Every U.S. national park is booming, but Acadia is unique with the Island Explorer system. We can expand our existing shuttle bus service to eliminate more or all private vehicles. An enormous parking lot for visitors could be created on the acres of undeveloped land at the Island Explorer’s base in Trenton. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument could become the second national park in Maine, with a healthy green business partnership formed between it and Acadia. By upgrading existing tracks from here to Millinocket, high speed rail could reduce travel time to 30 minutes. Our MDI tourist industry, our businesses of lodging, accommodations, food, shopping, recreation could be expanded or developed in the new national park. Possibilities abound for solving the housing crisis here by forming connection there with rails for commuting swiftly.
Let’s end the insanity of Bar Harbor reduced to a “destination” for the crummy cruise ship industry. It’s time to look ahead through a big broad windshield into the future. Let’s stop staring into the cramped little rearview mirror where we see only the past, where we once were temporarily but no longer need to be. We could become a genuinely green community, proud to provide a progressive model for our nation while creating an exciting sustainable legacy for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.
Beth Ellen Warner