Viewpoint: Preserve last source of MDI granite

by Jeff Gammelin


I’d like to take this opportunity to offer a fresh perspective on the Hall Quarry discussion. In the heat of legal sparring and emotion, certain details that complete the picture may have been overlooked.

Freshwater Stone has goals — maybe the better word is ideals — not normally found in a business plan. Stewardship. Being a good neighbor. Being a good employer.

We have sought to be a good neighbor by steeply discounting or simply donating stonework to Acadia National Park, the Friends of Acadia and Asticou Gardens, among others. We are proud to partner with Mount Desert Island groups and non-profit organizations in the conservation and preservation of the aesthetic that draws so many people to Acadia.

We have sought to be a good neighbor by limiting our days and hours of operation at Hall Quarry and fulfilling the stringent requirements of the quarry license ordinance. We have heavily invested in state of the art sound-suppression technology. We have offered and continue to offer an even more limited schedule for operations.

Philanthropic families, the Rockefellers among them, were aware of the visual appeal and structural integrity of this native stone. They used MDI pink granite extensively in designing and building the park, gardens, carriage paths, bridges, and their own homes. The closing of our quarry would halt the history of this indigenous granite and its use in construction, restoration and preservation of MDI landmarks. The other quarries that provided granite of this character are no longer in operation.

The Hall Quarry site, which has furnished so much of the extraordinary stone used in MDI structures and homes, is the island’s only operating granite quarry.

For some of our neighbors, our sound suppression work is not enough. They want silence. I can only say that there is nothing so silent as an industry that has ceased operation. For the past 60 years, American manufacturing has gone silent in one state after another.

As for our commitment to being a good employer, we are proud to be able to provide good paying jobs with full benefits to support more than 60 employees. The Hall Quarry site helps us maintain this level of employment.

In an era in which service jobs far outnumber jobs in manufacturing, we are encouraged by the 43 years support we have received from businesses and homeowners on and off Mount Desert Island. We hope you will support our right to continue providing rewarding employment while producing — from the quarry that gave the village its name — stonework that is the pride of Mount Desert Island.

Jeff Gammelin, with his wife Candy, cofounded Freshwater Stone in Orland in 1976.

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