To the Editor:
I attended the Southwest Harbor Select Board meeting on March 8 mostly because an item was on the agenda for the board to back a monetary grant request that the Conservation Committee is going to submit.
The audience was told the grant money would be used to purchase property adjacent to or near town-owned Chris’s Pond, which has been a winter skating place for many years. This would protect and enhance the area for the future. Also included in the grant request discussion was a piece of property that both Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Island Land Trust indicated their goal was to build an affordable/workforce housing unit on.
I asked several questions and got answers to some of them, but the answers to the important questions of cost to the town and ultimately the property taxpayers were basically unknown. The best replies were “not too much.” The folks who were promoting the project had no detailed maps, no surveys nor purchase costs for the meeting. This reminded me of an earlier bill in the U.S. House when Speaker Pelosi urged her fellow Democrats to “sign the bill now and read it later.”
This same grant request and one for a recreational area at the Hook property beside the Manset town dock was introduced at a May 11, 2021, Select Board meeting. The majority of the board voted to not pursue these grants because of lack of information and not seeing the need/desirability of the projects. Two of the four Select Board members present at the March 8 meeting were not on board because of lack of information and because this grant didn’t have to be presented until July. How could a grant request be written and submitted, and then the town be asked to vote to accept it, without having the details? The present leadership in Washington, D.C., and in Maine, seems to think we can spend our way out of any problem, but the property taxpayers in town should remember that very little is free.