To the Editor:
I write this letter as president of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, and I carry the support of the board of directors elected to represent chamber members. The chamber of commerce supports the Article 12 LUO amendment, as it’s good for local businesses and our community.
Working closely with businesses and nonprofits in Bar Harbor affords me the opportunity to witness how commerce works in this world-class destination community. Here, in Bar Harbor, we have guests excited to visit, filling our streets and patronizing our businesses and attractions, leaving behind an envious spending impact. This commerce allows us to have a robust year-round community replete with social services, educational systems, recreational havens, and community activities that are the envy of many a coastal community in Maine.
We are so lucky to live and work here. And we are so lucky we have the opportunity, as a small, year-round community, to learn the facts about local opportunities that engage voters in the improvement of our local economy and way of life.
This year, I am afraid that there has been a whirlwind of confusing information about the purchase of the old Bluenose ferry property at 121 Eden St. The vote on Tuesday, June 13, is about a simple question: should we create a new Shoreland Maritime Activities District at this location? Article 12 offers definitions and opportunities for future development, and it creates one Marine Use District.
A “yes” vote on Article 12 secures the option for the town of Bar Harbor to purchase the property, preventing it from being offered on the open market at this time. A “yes” vote on Article 12 allows the town the time needed to develop a business plan that will involve public visioning sessions, and at the end of this process, decide whether or not the town is able to purchase this site. That is all that a “yes” vote for Article 12 accomplishes.
Article 12 does not prescribe how this land will be developed, how the town will buy it, if and what kind of cruise ship activity may or may not be developed, or any other scenario. It’s a straightforward land use ordinance change.
And, of greater importance, it opens the door for all citizens to be involved in the future development of 121 Eden St. to the benefit of Bar Harbor businesses and residents.
If residents vote for Article 13, the option to purchase the property at a discounted rate of $2-2.5 million becomes void. This means that the state likely will offer the parcel on the open market, at an increased value that the town most likely will not be able to afford. If privately sold, Bar Harbor residents will have little say in how that land is used.
It’s up to all of us to read about the issues, assess our concerns and question conflicting information. The town of Bar Harbor website is the best place to find out the facts. Before June 13, please take time to read the warrants proposed for approval and join us on June 7 at 6 p.m. at Jesup Memorial Library for a Q&A with town representatives. And, as always, please reach out to the team at the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. They would love to hear from you and learn more about your perspectives and concerns.
The Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce supports the passage of Article 12 and the defeat of Article 13. We strongly encourage Bar Harbor residents to vote on June 13 beginning at 8 a.m. in the Municipal Building auditorium.
Every vote matters. Every vote counts.
President, Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce board of directors