Unimpressive report



Residents of Northeast Harbor recently got a look at a consultant’s recommendations to strengthen the vitality of downtown Northeast Harbor. To say those recommendations are unimpressive would be polite.

Among the suggestions is widening the sidewalk on the west side of Main Street and building a new sidewalk on the east side. Those ideas are not unlike identical plans floated in similar reports for other towns throughout Maine.

As several people in Mount Desert noted recently, the width of the sidewalks is not the problem. Finding more people to walk on them is the problem.

And, as selectmen directed, getting rid of diagonal parking in summer, which also is recommended in the report, is a non-starter.

Suggestions for more parking also were made. But even in August, the busiest month of the year, seldom is it difficult to find a place to park in Northeast Harbor.

The problems facing Northeast Harbor are not infrastructure related. They arise from there being insufficient economic activity to sustain a year-round business community. Considering that some elements in town have worked tirelessly over the years to discourage tourism, this result should come as no surprise.

Among the hard questions requiring answers are what barriers prevent more professionals and retail businesses from locating there. So far, much more has been accomplished by individuals and existing businesses than by government-supported efforts.

While Mount Desert has been active in acknowledging the problem in Northeast Harbor, the solutions offered so far, which range from outdoor movies to wider sidewalks, are far from groundbreaking or innovative.

Officials and taxpayers in Mount Desert and members of the Summer Residents Association who are footing the bill for these programs need to demand solutions that rise above shopworn and unimaginative options.

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