To the Editor:
A big part of the lack of affordable housing in Bar Harbor is due to the large hotel owners buying up many houses and apartments in the downtown residential areas for their seasonal workers. Over the past twenty years, they have been creeping into our neighborhoods and snatching up affordable housing.
I grew up on Newton Way and I have fond memories of playing with many children there throughout the year and also babysitting for neighbors. In recent years, most of the houses on Newton Way have been bought up to house seasonal workers. I can only think of one house on that street that is currently occupied by a family who lives there year round.
It’s literally a dead zone in the winter months. Newton Way is just one example of how the life is being sucked out of our downtown by the large hotel owners. In addition to having a virtually dead neighborhood, the houses that are used for seasonal workers are not being cared for.
They are run down and often times their lawns are not mowed and the bushes have not been trimmed in years. The owners of these properties are not considerate of the folks who live in the area who do take pride in keeping their homes in good condition. In my opinion, these big hotel corporations are acting as slum lords. Does the town know how many people are living in these structures? Are these structures up to code to house so many individuals?
Ocean Properties bought the affordable housing on West Street Extension and Witham Family Hotels bought the apartment complex that is located between School Street and Ledgelawn Avenue.
There were many year round families who lived in both of these apartment complexes. My guess is that most of the people who were forced to leave their homes had to leave Bar Harbor, and maybe even the island in order to find an affordable place to live. Instead of just attacking the locals who have rentals in order to pay their bills and to keep their homes in excellent condition, why don’t we address this issue? I suggest that from now on, anyone proposing to build a lodging facility in Bar Harbor should be required by the town to have sufficient and safe housing for their seasonal workers on the hotel property. If they cannot do this, then they should be denied permission to build.