To the Editor:
Many Bar Harbor citizens are participating in an advisory committee process to help the town councilors in particular, and the town of Bar Harbor as a whole, determine how best to acquire and develop the Eden Street ferry terminal property.
This visioning process is severely truncated to two months by the Town Council’s need to decide by Nov. 30 whether to commit to an option agreement it drew up with the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) to purchase the ferry terminal property for a “reduced price” of $2-2.5 million, $1-1.5 million less than the $3.5 million the MDOT paid for the property.
This option agreement contains many restrictions. There is a nonnegotiable condition that the town develop the property as a “long-term marine transportation” facility, and that, after five years, if the facility that the town plans is deemed by the MDOT not to meet their vision for the amount of transportation facilitated, the MDOT will be able to reclaim the land.
Prior to the June 2017 local election, MDOT further stipulated that if there were any local voter-dependent restrictions placed on the number of persons or size of cruise ships that could be served by this marine transportation facility, the MDOT would cancel the agreement. If the MDOT cancels the agreement, it will sell the property at fair market value, acknowledged by both parties to be well above $3.5 million.
On July 26, Jonathan Ness, MDOT representative for the option agreement, sent an email to Town Manager Cornell Knight, Town Council Chair Paul Paradis and others stating that if the Bar Harbor Town Council did not wish to commit to all of the restrictions in the option agreement, the MDOT would be willing to sell the ferry terminal property to the town of Bar Harbor for $3.5 million and remove all transportation use and reversionary restrictions.
This “no-restrictions option” would allow Bar Harbor citizens enough time to develop a ferry terminal plan that would represent the wishes of our greater Mount Desert Island community.
The citizens of Bar Harbor and its Town Council cannot choose this “no-restrictions option” unless there is a formal written agreement between the MDOT and the Town Council presenting this alternative.
To date, the Bar Harbor Town Council has not obtained a formal written agreement of this alternative “no-restrictions option” from the MDOT. We should encourage our Town Council to obtain this written document and give our town this unencumbered pathway to deciding how best to develop the ferry terminal property.
Abigail H. Conrad