To the Editor:
Bar Harbor faces two important votes on June 6 and 13. Supporting Article 12 and the new parking plan can help us deal with our town’s most pressing problems of seasonal overcrowding, traffic and parking.
Article 12 allows the town to buy the old ferry terminal on Rte. 3 at a below market rate from the state. We then get to talk about how this valuable asset can be used to protect our island. Article 12 does not commit us to a course of action with the ferry terminal – it simply keeps the conversation going. This is not about increasing the number of cruise ships or passengers.
I am concerned about overcrowding from tourists and pollution from cruise ships, so I was initially sympathetic to Article 13. But the reality is that only a small fraction of visitors come here by boat (around 5 percent). The problems of pollution, traffic and parking are not caused by cruise ship visitors. They are caused by individuals driving here in cars.
If Article 13 were to pass, the state would sell the terminal to the highest bidder, which would most likely be another large hotel. This simply brings more visitors and less parking.
Having cruise ships dock at a dedicated pier gets them out of our harbor and alleviates some of our taxpayer burden. The town can generate more money from the cruise ships by increasing the passenger fee at the terminal vs. in the harbor. Having cruise visitors come in on Rte. 3 creates less congestion and pollution because we wouldn’t have small boats going back and forth from ships in the harbor to deliver passengers.
I am saddened by the misinformation and mischaracterization being used to present Article 13. A mailer went out that lists a distorted account of the pros of 13 and cons of 12 (but no cons of 13 or pros of 12).
Article 12 does not represent a plan for “mega-pier” like the one pictured in Bayonne, N.J. It is outrageous to tell us that by voting for Article 12 we turn our Bar Harbor into Bayonne. These are blatant scare tactics and not fair and open dialogue.
We have a seasonal parking problem in town. More visitors are projected to come by car every year. The parking committee has many creative ideas to help solve this problem, such as remote lots with shuttle buses to town. However, all of these solutions require money. The proposal for seasonal parking meters would raise needed money for these projects, primarily from tourists. Prime parking spaces in front of businesses are currently being occupied for long periods of time. The 2-hour limit in the proposal would increase parking turnover and the likelihood of finding a spot downtown when we need one.
Please come out and vote June 6 and vote “yes” on the parking plan.
On June 13, vote “yes” on Article 12 and “no” on Article 13.