Herald Gazette letters
In his historic first Oval Office address, President Obama outlined the government's response to the Gulf oil disaster and called for Congress to help move us toward a new, clean energy future.
The BP spill illustrates in heartbreaking terms the dangers of our nation's addiction to oil. While our first priority must be to do whatever is necessary to repair the damage in the Gulf and ensure that those responsible foot the bill, we also need a long-term solution to move away from energy sources that threaten our environment, economy and national security.
We need the president to ban drilling in new areas, especially near Maine. And we need Congress to pass a strong comprehensive clean energy and climate bill this summer that does four things: ensures that Gulf communities and ecosystems are quickly repaired, institutes policies that move America off of oil, establishes a cap on global warming pollution, and gives strong financial support to clean, renewable energy sources.
I urge Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to make sure that Congress seizes this historic opportunity, and answers President Obama's call for a strong energy and climate bill that protects our environment, economy, and national security.
To RSU 13 School Board members
I am still at a loss at what has gone on with the budget process as well as your combining of our schools and mostly at the loss of our eighth grade here in St. George. How does this happen -- when a group selected by their public does not listen to their public? I would like to point out a comment made by Ruth Ann Hohfeld to Mr. Dyer at the last, regularly scheduled school board meeting, and would like the other board members to take note:
Mr. Dyer mentioned that some in the St. George community came to the board meetings to voice their concern about the school consolidation and at the time the possible loss of the St. George eighth grade. Ms. Hohfeld stated that we had had several community meetings. Yes, we did. I attended two of those meetings; the largest of all was at Georges Valley High School. It is my understanding that the Rockland District High School meeting was not well attended. St. George was sadly under attended in my opinion and I do not know of the others. Had you, along with the other board members gung-ho on implementing this change, been listening to your constituents at that time of the very well attended GVHS meeting, you would have realized that the majority did not want this school consolidation to take place in 2011 if at all.
I was also taken aback by the fact that with the very important decision of the destruction of a community school (because that is what you have implemented) that was being voted on at the June 3 meeting, Mrs. Kilgour and Mrs. Sanborn were not in attendance and Mr. Messing abstained from even voting.
Now, with the state placing the Many Flags concept one step closer to fruition, when and if this building is constructed, we again will be told to move our children around and we hope, bring our eighth-grade students back to St. George. So, I ask, that with the recent events in Augusta, that someone on this board make a motion to repeal this consolidation change to the time, when and if you are granted the award and voter approval, to begin building the Many Flags campus.
Maine Pro Musica
Maine Pro Musica, a chamber orchestra led my Janna Hymes, is the new kid on the Maine musical block and well worth keeping an eye on.
At its first classical performance on June 18 at the Camden Opera House, the program burst with energy and crisp voicing with the overture from Rossini's "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella). Gabriel Faure's Pavane brought us into a quieter mode and set the stage for Saint-Saens' Cello Concerto No. 1 with Marc Johnson as cello soloist. His performance with the orchestra brought the audience to a standing ovation. Following intermission, the orchestra performed the Schubert Symphony No. 5, composed when he was just 19, with energy and soul.
Yes, yes, I know - Midcoast Maine has so many options for concert goers, it is hard to choose which concerts to attend, but I would propose that if you are missing the eloquence of the small orchestra, now is the time to lend your support to this "newbie."
Janna Hymes brings a remarkable musical history to the Midcoast audience and a vision for bringing her Maine musicians to many small venues along the coast as well as inland. We need to help this conductor/music director/administrator find venues and support for the group's joyous music making. Visit the Web site, and welcome aboard in anticipation of many successful evenings - and afternoons perhaps - of delightful listening.
Linda H. Small
Camden's coastal residential zoning
The new owner of the Fox Hill estate at 235 Bay View St., Matthew Simmons, has proposed that the Camden Planning Board change the Coastal Residential District definition to include "Conference, educational and events centers" as special exceptions, wherever lot sizes amount to 12 acres or more. This change has a potentially sweeping effect, as it includes not just this site, but the entire district. Currently, a total of 12 properties within this residential zone meet the minimum lot size proposed. The Coastal Residential District includes the full length of the shoreline of Camden (other than the inner harbor, Curtis Island, and the state park) from the Rockport to the Lincolnville town lines.
The proposal would allow 300-seat auditoriums, overnight accommodations and food service for conference attendees, and indoor and outdoor entertainment until 11 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively. The stated intentions are to create a center for "conference uses ... multi-day retreats ... social events and receptions ... educational activities ... and symposiums." While the proposal limits guest accommodations to one room per 8,000 square feet of lot size, it does not limit conference size, frequency of events, decibel level of entertainment, number of meals served, or number of attendees. Shuttle buses to off-site parking are being considered.
We feel strongly that the Coastal Residential District definitions should not be rewritten to allow such uses. This zone is intended for peaceful neighborhoods and includes some of Camden's most scenic areas and quiet streets used by walkers, baby strollers, joggers and bicyclists. This particular location on Bay View Street sits on a sharp corner of a narrow, winding residential street that sees a great deal of foot traffic. It also faces a tranquil cemetery. We believe that conference centers would have a detrimental effect on the quiet, peaceful atmosphere of this Camden neighborhood (as well as the other 11), creating noise, traffic and safety hazards.
There are other properties located within business districts, such as the Knox Mill, which are currently empty or underutilized. Wouldn't it make more economic sense to put these buildings to use, rather than significantly alter a district that was created decades ago to provide tranquil homes for our residents?
We encourage you to attend the next Planning Board meeting at 5 p.m. on July 7 to learn more. We will be organizing an educational effort and circulating a community petition expressing our opposition to this proposal. For more information, e-mail Concerned Camden Residents at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faith and David Hague
Concerned Camden Residents