Camden Herald letters, Sept. 13, 2012
Camden's Historic Preservation lost cause
Did you know that the Camden Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2005 states that one of the town's goal is to develop a separate historic preservation ordinance to assure the protection of those historic areas and buildings deemed significant in protecting the character of the town?
On Sept. 6, 2011, the Camden Planning Board presented to the select board a Historic Preservation Ordinance for purposes of preserving, protecting, and enhancing (1) all buildings and places or areas within the Historic Downtown Fire District of the Town; (2) Curtis Island, (3) Town-owned properties within other designated Historic Districts, and (4) other privately owned historic properties by owner request and acceptance by the Town.
To achieve these purposes, it was intended that the ordinance regulations be used to make certain that construction or demolition of or alterations to buildings, structures or designated landscapes within these districts were executed in a manner that is compatible with the character of the area.
Unfortunately, after listening to various owners of buildings in the Downtown business district who objected to the conditions of the proposed ordinance for economic reasons, the select board voted to not put the ordinance on the November 2011 ballot for the town residents to vote on.
What a shame, if the ordinance was in place and the owners of 58 Chestnut St. had presented their property to the town for acceptance as a historic property, the building would have been extensively reviewed for its historic value before any permit was issued for demolition.
The question that needs to be asked is — How many more historic buildings will be demolished before the town enacts a Historic Preservation Ordinance?
As the owner of a 200 year old historic home in Camden, I must add my protest to the town for their authorization for the tear down of the historic house at the corner of Chestnut and Frye. Once an historic building is gone, it can't be replaced. And to add insult to injury, is the fact that this house is in a designated National Register of Historic Places district. I have read the letters of the former owners, who claim they would never have sold the house if they'd known the new buyer's intentions, and from the neighbors who for years have appreciated the old features of this house. If the new buyers had wanted a new house, why not build one in an appropriate neighborhood, on a vacant lot? Why choose a spot where the existing house would have to be torn down?
All pleas thus far seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps if more in the Camden community were to raise their voices, this travesty could be stopped. The house, which I understand has already recently been restored, could easily be resold to someone who would preserve the house and the historic character of the district, and the buyers could purchase another property that suits them.
I hope that others who want to maintain the historic character of our downtown will join me in protesting this destruction to the town committee.
Jo Ann Simon
As my wife and I were taking our daily “dog walk” route down Chestnut Street last week, we became aware of the unbelievable news that the Frye house on Frye and Chestnut Street in Camden is scheduled for demolition.
We moved to Camden two years ago. We came to Camden because it was a beautiful harbor town with a great school system that clearly valued its architectural heritage and its history. Nothing typifies that heritage more, than a house like the Frye house, which is such an intrinsic part of downtown Camden’s historic neighborhood. The house is part of the story that’s told every time you walk or drive down Chestnut Street. Its a story of architecture and much more! It’s a story about the life of the people that have lived here and still live here.
I would plead with the new owners of the property to listen and respect the towns history, its architecture, and the feelings of the people who value the story that the Frye House has been part of - the story of a beautiful harbor town, the families that have lived there and an era of architecture.
This historic “Frye House” deserves to keep standing, providing beauty, shelter and heritage.
If we don’t to everything in our power to prevent this wonderful historic house from being torn down, every time in the future we pass by its space on Chestnut Street, we will feel ashamed of our apathy.
Camden Windjammer Festival
Thanks to a great team effort, the Camden Windjammer Festival blew into town during the recent Labor Day Weekend. It took many people and organizations to make the festival a reality.
Thanks first to the windjammer fleet, the day tour boats and many private vessels which make the festival the outstanding sight that it is. This year was a special one for the schooner Mary Day, 50 years old. They celebrated the birthday with a party and a lovely wedding on board watched all around the harbor. Haddie Hawkins, son of Mary Day’s builder and first captain visited in his sloop Vela. Captain Jim Sharp provided commentary on the boats as they arrived and filled everyone in on the history of the schooners in Camden. Wayfarer Marine provided the harbor support including an all comers boat parade to round out the festival on Sunday afternoon.
The Maritime Heritage Fair was the centerpiece of the land based events showcasing a range of exhibitors demonstrating and explaining maritime skills and knowledge. Meg Sharp helped recruit exhibitors provided leadership in getting everyone in place on the public landing. Shed City loaned us a lovely shed as an information center and Lyman Technologies provided the solar generator that powered the exhibits and build-a-boat contest. Jory Squib organized and managed the build-a-boat, providing assistance to all participants including a team from the visiting Navy Ship. Our thanks to EBS for the building materials and Sika Corporation for the glue. Seth Silverton and Jessica Manbeck with the help of Harbormaster Steve Pixley and his team organized and ran the lobster crate race, filled as always with exciting running and spectacular splashes.
Camden and West Bay Rotary clubs contributed a pancake breakfast and chowder challenge respectively. Nine local restaurants supported the Rotary and the festival by contributing wonderful chowder. Thanks to Pete Lammert of Thomaston for the loan of the event tent which came in handy for the breakfast and chowder, not to mention the dampness of Sunday. The P.A.W.S. staged a fun dog show and the Pirates of the Dark Rose entertained visitors throughout the days including a dramatic arrival of the ship Must Roos. A new feature this year was a wet paint auction implemented by Howard Gallagher and the staff of Camden Falls Gallery that featured the auction of more than 20 works of art created during the festival.
The Town of Camden was a supportive partner. The Harbormaster’s office, the Fire Department, Parks and Rec Department, Public Works, Police Department, Pat Finnigan and the administrative staff all were major contributors to the success of the event. While not an official down department, thanks to Camden First aid for their reassuring presence.
Major sponsorship was provided by Down East Magazine, Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, Cellardoor Winery, Point Lookout, Allen Insurance and Financial, The First, Camden National Bank and Courier Publications with in-kind media support and printing the festival program. Local Camden businesses also provided important support and are listed on the websitewww.camdenwindjammerfestival.com. Key contributors were Elm Street Printing and Graphics and Adventure Advertising. A small but mighty team of volunteers helped to keep everything ticking along.
The Camden Windjammer Festival is truly a community event that seeks to showcase the maritime heritage that made Camden what she is today. We will be on the harbor and the public landing again next year on Labor Day weekend with fun for all.
The Camden Windjammer Festival Steering Committee: Emily Lusher, Dan Bookham, Steve Pixley, Meg Sharp, John Viehman, Flint Decker, Seth Silverton and Jessica Manbeck
It's Angus for me
As a long-time admirer and supporter of Angus King, and, when he was governor, an occasional collaborator on his successful program to help Maine businesses increase their exports, I was delighted when he announced his candidacy to replace Olympia Snowe in the U.S. Senate.
And now his campaign is giving me the additional pleasure of being able to watch the out-of-state PACs waste the money of their anonymous wealthy supporters through the comically ill-conceived ad campaigns they're throwing at him. Imagine spending perfectly good money to claim that Angus is "anti-business", when most of the businessmen in Maine will tell you that the claim is nonsense. And then there's the spectacle of certain Republican PACs running ads supporting the Democratic candidate as a better way to chip away at Angus's lead than buying ads for their own guy.
I imagine that a lot of would-be "Angus-assassins" out there will soon realize that their feet are getting full of self-inflicted bullet holes.