To the Editor:
To me, an upcoming public hearing in Southwest Harbor is really about the public water main, not just a proposed new road or driveway alteration. The hearing is an opportunity for residents to protect the public water supply from private interests.
At the Sept. 16 Planning Board meeting that I attended, a private corporation, Island Land, owning the vast 160-acre parcel running along the water main’s north border (along the blueberry field and beyond) claimed ownership of the 30-foot strip of land used by the water main to deliver public drinking water from the Long Pond water treatment facility all the way to Main Street. This route is nearly a mile long. You can see it on Google maps – it looks like a street. Maine reports that the Southwest Harbor Waste Water Department delivers 250,000 to 600,000 (peak season) gallons of water per day to residents from the Long Pond Watershed.
The publicly available state of Maine tax parcel map records show that the water main route is clearly mapped as a public right of way, just like any public street.
Southwest Harbor utility records are spotty, as evidenced by numerous missing water wells that are not registered locally or publicly with the state as they should (mine included). The town’s poor state of utility records is apparently being used to justify the project. The water main is missing on the project plan as if it doesn’t exist! What is the position of the five-member board of trustees of the Southwest Harbor Water and Sewer District?
Southwest Harbor tax payers have a right to expect their tax dollars to prioritize fundamental government responsibilities like managing public streets and public water supplies. They each pay hundreds of dollars in tax per acre, while some, like the holding corporation, pay very, very little per acre. All public data.
The public hearing is currently scheduled for Oct. 7.
It’s your choice: Whom does your local government represent, and are you OK with that?