Letters, Camden Herald
Heads they win, tails we lose
I am writing to express my opposition to the Fox Hill rezoning proposal. Having spent my professional life in the business world, I am a skeptic by nature and bring a somewhat unique perspective to this debate. Bottom line, I believe that a group of investors, led by a Wall Street trained professional is trying to ‘pull the wool’ over the eyes of trusting Camden residents.
Having been approached as a potential investor, I can attest to the enormous profit potential of this endeavor. The promises of new jobs and outreach programs, as well as the threat of subdivisions are ploys to divert focus from their goal of enriching themselves. Fox Hill offers an extraordinarily high profit that will allow a Wall Street executive to maintain his standard of living and enjoy a personal residence within Fox Hill; all of which is made possible by wealthy patrons paying $50,000 per month and the acceptance of spot zoning by the residents of Camden.
As a community, we are being asked to assume enormous risk. Once we allow spot zoning, the ‘horse is out of the barn.’ There will be no going back if an insufficient number of local residents are employed or if the efforts to address alcohol abuse problems within our community become unfulfilled campaign promises. In short, the residents of Camden will be providing a free option to Rodman and company. If Fox Hill is successful as a rehab facility, they realize enormous profits. If Fox Hill is unsuccessful, we bear the costs and face a future subdivision. Heads they win, tails we lose!
I understand that some residents are asking the Planning Board to allow the town to vote on this issue, claiming that it is too important to end the debate with the board. To the contrary, this proposal is nothing more than a Wall Street-sponsored investment proposal. We are being asked to ‘invest’ in this business by approving spot zoning, with a ‘sales pitch’ that may be the norm from a stockbroker, but not for the Camden voter. As the Planning Board, it is your responsibility to function as our safeguard. It is time for the Planning Board to make the decision that it was appointed to make, and say 'no' to spot zoning!
David R. Weil
Where do you belong?
When we were kids and met a person "from away" we would often start out by asking them where did they belong? In turn we would state "we b'long here!"
The idea that someone would actually live in an area without "belonging" to it just didn't exist. Even today I find that concept hard to fathom. I have checked this concept with at least one other person of equal age but from a different area of the county and can confirm the concept and practice was frequently used in his neck of the woods (New Jersey) as well as here in Midcoast Maine. But it seems more natural to relate it to our home. After all, the country as a whole, and especially New England carries the deep seated believe while we are newcomers to this land, but are more than mere sojourners. This is "our" land from the days of early exploration. This not to denigrate nor diminish the claims of the early Indians, for they like us, have chosen this land to be ours by right of love of the hills, forests, seas and all. We are truly brothers in appreciating this land is our land. It is where we belong.
I have been fortunate to have seen much of the world while serving in the U.S. Navy. I was born in Corinth and have picnicked on the steps of the temple to Diana in Corinth, Greece from which Jason set out to find the Golden Fleece. I have stood on top of Mt. Battie, and of Katahdin, I have watched Easter morning from the edge of the crader of Diamond Head, Oahu, Hawaii. I have stood on the steps of the temple of Dawn of Bankok. I have climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan in time to witness sunrise from the summit (It was foggy). Flown my plane over the top of Mauna Loa and ridden as passenger-tactical observer submerged from the Philippines to Kaoshiung, Taiwan. Many times I have climbed to the top of Observation Hill at McMurdo, Antartica just as earlier remnants of Scott's ill-fated expedition did to look for his return. I have stood with my father at the South Pole, the second only father-son pair to do so.
After 20 years of active duty, I retired to enter George Washington University medical school and seven years later after completing residency in obstetrics and gynecology I returned to my home in Midcoast Maine, where "I B'Long."
"Breathes there a man who never to himself hath said,
This is mind own, my native land!
An it is where 'I B'long."
Corwin Anson Olds
CDR (Retired) USN
Don't disregard the evidence
Healthy debate of important topics is seldom a bad thing. Thoughtful, reasoned discourse between parties with a vested interest in the outcome of a particular issue can, and should, result in a thoughtful and reasonable resolution. When presenting a position, each side has a shared responsibility as well. Such debate is predicated on more than gut feelings or an inherently skeptical nature and should be based in fact, not conjecture: evidence, not supposition.
Many of those in opposition to the proposed facility at Fox Hill have chosen to disregard or ignore most of the evidence presented by the proponents. They chose instead to offer negative assumptions and unsubstantiated opinion. A single phone call to the Planning Board and Board of Selectmen in Princeton, Mass., for example, would have allayed many of their fears, yet no one in opposition chose to make that call.
James LaChance of Princeton, Mass., has twice spoken to the Camden Planning Board about his town’s experience with McLean Hospital. He was a member of Princeton’s Planning Board when the hospital was first seeking approval to locate a treatment facility in a residential area of the town, a facility that is the model on which the proposed Fox Hill facility is based. He stated that the town’s citizens had many of the same concerns as those in Camden and that these concerns all proved to be unfounded. Also, Alan Sentkowski, a Selectman in Princeton at the time, assured those in attendance that McLean has been a great neighbor and a positive addition to the town.
When reading any position piece, pro or con, it’s necessary for the reader to be on the lookout for insinuation. As a matter of fact McLean Hospital is a highly respected and valuable member of all the communities in which it operates and, given the opportunity, will be so in Camden.
For example, McLean has a proven track record of improving the communities in which it operates including but not limited to: public school consultation services; mental health programs for local first responders; geriatric memory and/or depression screenings; a sought after expert speakers bureau; and consultation services to local pediatricians.
Opponents who are concerned about future changes to the zoning ordinances need only look to their own planning board for reassurance. Our local Planning Board has been carefully considering all aspects of the zoning change for several months now. Their actions have indicated beyond doubt that they are a careful and considerate group, whose priorities lie with the wellbeing of the local populace.
Yes, Tom Rodman is an investor and primary proponent of the facility. Mr. Rodman has ties to the Camden area that extend back more than 50 years. In addition, he is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Strive, a national nonprofit organization that provides much valued support and training for at-risk youths with intellectual and emotional disabilities. His interests in the Fox Hill project lie solely in the success of clients in need who deserve to receive the highest quality care. At the same time, the private residential facility will be a source of new, good paying, year-round professional jobs and a rare economic windfall for Camden and Coastal Maine.
Unfortunately for everyone in Camden, those opposed to the project are disregarding the many well-documented known benefits the facility will bring in favor of personal unfounded fears.