Letters, Camden Herald
In defense of the Inn
Editor's note: The following comment was posted online at knox.villagesoup.com as a response to the Feb. 6, 2014, story published online and in Camden Herald titled Guests file human rights complaint against Camden Harbour Inn.
Please be ensured that the New Amsterdam Suite is ADA accessible without stairs, that the entrance was never blocked and the room is ADA approved by the state. Also the private decks were accessible.
Stephanie Grinnell has provided partly incorrect information in this article and we regret that Mrs. Grinnell never took the opportunity to contact us directly. We will inform Village Soup separately and ask for a rectification.
Our innkeepers were never informed about the extreme limited mobility of Mr. Patnode. When Mrs. Patnode booked a room on the second floor, she never informed the innkeepers that Mr. Patnode was limited mobile. The next day when Mrs. Patnode called the innkeepers again, she asked if we had an elevator and after she learned we do not have an elevator, she rebooked the reservation to the first floor room. Never did Mrs. Patnode inform our innkeepers that her husband was ADA physically challenged to a degree that Mr. Patnode was unable to walk 100ft or the inability to climb stairs.
Mrs. Patnode did however inform the innkeepers about dietary restrictions and a very early arrival both were noted in the guest's reservation.
Mr. and Mrs. Patnode did not pay the full amount for the New Amsterdam Suite. The rate was based on a less expensive room they had booked initially. When Mr. Patnode arrived it was the first time we were aware of the extreme limited mobility of Mr. Patnode and concluded that according to ADA law we had to provide him with ADA complied accommodations against the initial booked room rates. In other words Mr. and Mrs. Patnode received a first floor luxurious suite with a ADA complied bathroom with walk in steam shower, two private decks, a living room with gas fireplace and master bedroom with kingsize bed, all ADA accessible for the rate of a normal guest room.
It is correct that, after we learned that the less than 100ft from the inn's ADA parking to the entrance of the suite was too much of a walk for Mr. Patnode, we offered to rebook them to a different hotel. We have proof that several 4-diamond properties in the area had availability and this is also not denied by the Maine Human Right association. It was in May, so still off-season and hotels and inn's are usually not at full capacity at this time of the year.
However it is incorrect that the Mr. Patnode was more than usual exposed to other inn or restaurant guests (resulting in Mr. Patnode self consciousness of his limited mobility). The restaurant is only in service during the evening and for breakfast (limited to our inn guests). Mr. Patnode had also the possibility to avoid the biggest part of the restaurant by using a separate hallway leading to the ADA guest room (covering approximately the same distance).
In a reply to the Maine Human Right association we have asked the question how the limited confrontation with our inn guests could have been an issue for Mr. Patnode as we were in off-season and with 6 rooms (out of 20) not available because of construction, we had less than 20 guests staying with us. More so when you consider that Mr. and Mrs. Patnode flew into Portland, Maine, likely using a larger airport to transfer flights and therefore were exposed to far more people.
Mr. and Mrs. Patnode arrived at the inn in a rental car.
We feel sorry for Mr. Patnode's awareness of his limited mobility. But we have a hard time understanding how we, a property catering to the public, can avoid Mr. Patnode being among people.
We have done the utmost to accommodate and inform Mr. and Mrs. Patnode about our facilities and alternative possibilities. We comped room nights, food services and wine. We had multiple conversations with Mrs. Patnode and our chefs created special meals which sometimes were served outside operation hours of the restaurant.
On the last day of Mr. and Mrs. Patnode stay (day of check out) the innkeepers were informed that a construction container was obstructing the ADA parking. We had it immediately removed (within an hour). A day earlier the container was emptied and by accident placed in the wrong position. After Mrs. Patnode had complained to our innkeepers, Mrs. Patnode was able to maneuver out of the parking lot, all by herself without assistance (which we had offered) and before the container was repositioned. The car has always been fully accessible for Mr. Patnode.
We regret that the construction company did position the container somewhat close to the ADA parking lot and we responded immediately when we found out. We understand ADA parking lot(s) always need to be fully accessible. However by leaving the parking lot without assistance also shows it was not fully obstructed and more an understandable annoyance to our guests.
Besides this complain we received a substantial list of complaints by Mrs. Patnode ranging from cleanliness of the room, noisiness of other guests and the kitchen (which is located at the other end of the building), to the incompetence of our staff members including the owners.
We do like to mention that our hardworking innkeepers had the challenge of dealing with the verbally aggressive approach of Mrs. Patnode, sometimes resulting in tears behind the scene. In the beginning we hoped it was because of the long flight and being tired, however this behavior continued until check-out. We have deep respect for the professionalism of our staff and management. Although they had every reason to avoid Mrs. Patnode, instead they worked harder and discussed what else they could do in the hope to give Mr. and Mrs. Patnode an unforgettable stay.
We will continue to provide evidence that Camden Harbour Inn has always done the best to their abilities to accommodate Mr. and Mrs. Patnode and provide luxurious lodging including an accessible suite.
We have invited the Maine Human Right Association on several occasions to visit our facility to familiarize with the situation and to see what the reality is. The Maine Human Right Association, so far has not accepted our invitation.
We are sorry and saddened that we were unable to satisfy the wishes of Mr. and Mrs. Patnode, however we do feel it is important the correct story is told.
Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest
Owners Relais & Chateaux Camden Harbour Inn
Who do you work for, really?
I am going to keep this short. I believe the three Camden Select Board members who decided that Camden voters aren’t smart enough to decide for themselves on whether McLean can have the zoning amendment they need to open a residential recovery center at Fox Hill did so to serve their own interests. Period. Everyone I spoke to, on both sides, wanted to vote on this issue in the privacy of the voting booth. I am presently considering opening a business in Camden and I can’t believe this nonsense. Do you really think anyone believes your decision was made with the best interest of all Camden residents in mind? Think about it. 3-6 million a year added to the economy, 35 new four season jobs with benefits, education and outreach, and conferences with more visitors in the off season. And you won’t let us vote on this? Who do you work for, really?
Voters are well-informed
Three out of five members of the Camden Select Board voted to prevent a town vote on whether or not McLean should be permitted to operate a residential recovery center at Fox Hill despite knowing that many residents wanted to vote on this issue.
The week before this Select Board vote, I went door to door in Camden asking residents to sign a petition asking our Select Board to let the voters decide this issue. 291 people signed directly and an addition 80 called or emailed to “put their name down’ as wanting this to go to a town ballot. That is 371 Camden residents. Of the people we talked to there were only 40 “no’s” and half of those just wanted to learn more. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of a town vote on this issue. The Select Board was informed of this.
The petitions were not designed to be legally binding but to create a conversation. Every person who walked the neighborhoods talking to residents about their feelings about this zoning amendment for McLean have deep connections to Camden and a history of volunteering in this community. Many of the people I spoke to knew me from my years assisting at-risk teens and families in the Camden area.
Now I have to stop here and say that there were no paid people from Portland circulating these petitions as the opposition kept repeating at the Select Board meeting and in the press even after they knew the truth. But this persistent twisting of the truth has been what they have been doing all along. The town attorney told the Planning Board that the zoning amendment was not spot zoning. But never let the truth get in the way of getting what you want. And they want control.
It is ironic that we are being accused of being from out of town by a paid public relations mouthpiece from Baldacci Communications in Portland.
In the neighborhoods we found that Camden residents were very well informed on this issue. They knew the pros and cons; and they wanted to learn more. They want to vote.
But three men won’t let them. This patronizing patriarchal attitude is simply not necessary. I hope Fox Hill petitions to put this on the ballot so voters can decide in spite of the negative messaging of a few opponents.
Saddened and disappointed
As a registered voter and new resident in Camden I am disappointed that I will not have the opportunity to vote on whether or not the town supports the necessary changes to zoning that would allow McLean to operate a residential recovery center at Fox Hill. I am one of those individuals referred to at the Select Board meeting whose voice traditionally would only be heard via a silent vote as it is not natural for me to write letters to the editor or to take a stand on issues that have become political or polarized.
I am saddened and disappointed for several reasons. First, that this proposal did not make it to the people of this town for a vote. And secondly, and more importantly, as a healthcare professional who has spent her professional life specializing in recovery treatment that the benefits to the health and well-being of this town, and all those that this project would serve, has not made it into the conversation
I am curious as to where the fear of this project is arising from. Is it that it is literally hitting too close to home? Is the denial of the reality of addiction within one’s own life, home, family or community too much to face right now? Has the opposition to this project been impacted by the loss of a loved one to the disease of addiction and thus have lost faith in the viability of treatment and rehabilitation for this illness? Has the value of a treatment program as offered by McLean that would serve individuals facing a life threatening illness been properly assessed for its value not only to the individuals it serves but to society as a whole?
There is much more that could be brought into view however the point of this letter is that the decision of the Select Committee has not only prevented the opportunity for the people of the town of Camden to have its voice. It has hindered a larger conversation in regard to the impact of untreated addiction on our culture.
Linda A. White, MA LCPC
Betrayed by select board
Three men on the Camden Select Board decided to take away my right to vote. I am one of those young professionals who would benefit from McLean operating a residential recovery center at Fox Hill. I am a single father of a 3-year-old daughter and I rent an apartment in Camden. I want to work where I live. I want my daughter to attend school here. I have to drive a long distance to work and I was hoping that I could apply for a finance or administration management job at McLean for which I am qualified.
I know I am not the only one who feels betrayed by the Select Board. Do they want all the businesses and young families to move away? Why would they not, at least, allow us to vote on this issue? If the town decided to vote this down, I would gladly accept this decision, but now, I feel cheated of the opportunity to vote.
I never expected that three men would dare to interrupt the town meeting form of government to please a small group of vocal opponents. You took away the voting rights of an entire town – that is your legacy. I am writing McLean to encourage them to petition the town to put this zoning amendment on the June ballot.
Serious flaws in the process
Kudos to Camden Selectmen Martin Cates and Don White for voting their recognition of the voters’ right to make and adjust laws in our town. But, on February 4 Selectmen Leonard Lookner, Jim Heard and John French voted that the ultimate decision regarding adjusting C-R zoning to allow an additional use on Fox Hill is one we the lawmakers should be prevented from determining.
So, why should voters be trusted with other complicated issues, like passing a Comprehensive Plan, budgets and TIF Districts? Worse, why continue to trust us to make regular changes and adjustments to the Zoning Ordinance itself at the behest of a parade of petitioners with vested interests in those changes? Perhaps we should also let them change for us our form of government from Town Meeting to City, with its all-powerful City Council. Then, once we elect our representatives, we’re done. Simple, uncomplicated. And it would give us all so much more time; so much less work.
The Select Board “Hearing” in the Opera House on February 4 revealed serious flaws in Process. We rely upon the expertise of the appropriate authorities (Planning Board, Town Attorney, Code Enforcement Officer) to vet a proposal’s wording, its legality, and whether a change is in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance and the nature of the affected zone, which they did over 38 hours of testimony. Then, after a 3 ¼ hour Public “Hearing,” the Selectmen committed, as characterized by an observing legislator, “the egregious faux pas of preparing their response BEFORE they heard the testimony,” speaking without referencing the Hearing’s input. Then three voted to usurp our rights. Voters should be outraged.
Critical community consciousness
As members of the Midcoast Community Chorus and as residents of midcoast Maine, we want to share with our neighbors a powerful reminder we recently experienced about the deceptively subtle but critical importance of community consciousness. Over several days of putting up posters for our January concert, we found a startling and painful difference in attitudes between local small business owners and the “big box stores” that are beginning to take up residence in our area. Local store owner after local store owner graciously welcomed our efforts to advertise the concert by helping us place our small attractive poster in their windows, on bulletin boards or even tape it to their wall when they had no other place to put it. In contrast, we ran into nothing but cold, impersonal rejection from one of the biggest box stores underscoring how shockingly disconnected the international stores really are from the genuine welfare of our community.
It is relevant that not only has the Midcoast Community Chorus regularly brought outstanding music and a wonderful sense of community spirit to our neighborhood, we have donated approximately $50,000 to our community including $10,000 each year to worthy local causes including Knox County Health Clinic, Restorative Justice Project, New Hope for Women, Maine Farmland Trust and Five Town Communities That Care.
We fully appreciate that many local residents benefit from big box store discounted prices they can offer because of mass production and international low wages. We also recognize that local employees welcome a paying job. However, it seems important to also recognize that communities are composed of individual human beings who are real people struggling to earn a living wage and contribute good quality products as well as good will towards their friends and neighbors. There is no one definitive good answer to this challenging modern day dilemma. However, it seems to us that welcoming local residents and offering the space and cost of one community bulletin board which would benefit the entire community would be the least these international megastores can offer local residents.
Spay and neuter for healthy, long life
Each year, thousands of unwanted dogs and cats are brought to local animal shelters. These crowded shelters are left with the task of caring of them, nursing them back to health when necessary, and finding responsible owners to provide loving homes for them. This can all be avoided by having your pet spayed or neutered so that they can’t reproduce, reducing the number of unwanted puppies and kittens that may end up at a shelter.
Spaying and neutering will not only reduce the overall number of unwanted dogs and cats, but will also reduce unwanted behavioral problems such as territorial marking, roaming, humping and aggression. Risk of certain medical conditions such as uterine infections, cancers of the uterus and ovaries, testicular tumors, and hyperplasia are eliminated by spaying and neutering as well. The overall risk of trauma from automobiles is also reduced since spayed and neutered pets roam less.
Risks and complications from having pets sterilized are minimal. Veterinarians will perform a thorough physical exam before administering safe anesthetics to performing the spay or castration. Most pets recover very quickly and are back to near normal, though restricted, activity within 24 hours, and the addition of safe pain medications eases and speeds the animals’ recovery.
The cost of spaying and neutering is a concern for many individuals. Local veterinarians perform numerous spays and neuters daily to clients, but for those with financial constraints, there is both the Community Spay-Neuter clinic in Freeport (providing low cost sterilization) and financial assistance available through the Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County.
Unless someone has a purebred dog or cat and a strong desire to be a responsible breeder, most animals should be spayed or neutered. The unwanted pet population across the country and even in midcoast Maine is huge, requiring large resources of time and money to care for them at animal shelters. An unspayed cat alone can have up to 3 litters of kittens yearly , and producing dozens of kittens over the course of its life. These unwanted kittens are left to fend for themselves without the aid of overpopulated and underfunded animal shelters. Please do your part by having your pets spayed or neutered. They will live a longer and healthier life as a result.
Glenn A Yovino, DVM
Harbor Road Veterinary Hospital
WinterFest Week a success
The first weekend of Winterfest 2014 was a great success, with ice sculpting, snow sculpting, sledding for kids, hot food, live music indoors and out, and kid crafts indoors. This year Winterfest featured the added attraction of CamJam in Harbor Park with freestyle skiing and snowboarding on Saturday and the rail jam competition on Sunday. It took a lot of dedication and effort from several organizations and individuals to put this wintertime celebration together; the Camden area is fortunate to have so many energetic volunteers and a site like Harbor Park and the Camden Amphitheatre.
Winterfest Week continued, culminating with the US National Toboggan Championships at the Camden Snow Bowl Feb. 7-9.
For the Feb. 1 festivities, thanks goes to MC Dan Bookham of Allen Insurance and Financial, DJ Owen Cartwright, musicians Hazel Delehey, Jacob Corney, Bethany Vix, and Dana Rader, who performed outdoors in the mild although still wintry weather last Saturday, and the All That Jazz band who performed inside the library. Lucinda Ziesing’s support was also essential for the element of live music at Winterfest this year. Tim Pierce, master ice-carver of the Samoset Resort, as always provided the core support for the carvers with their creations. Thanks also to intrepid food volunteers Bridget Qualey, Chris Wohler, Caroline Morong, and Kate McMorrow. The delicious food was all donated by Camden restaurants and businesses including Peter Ott’s Steakhouse and Tavern, Waterfront Restaurant, Cappy’s Chowder House, French and Brawn Marketplace, Boynton McKay, and Hannaford’s.
This year for the first time, Winterfest and the Toboggan Nationals collaborated to make an overall vision for Winterfest Week, which included the CamJam freestyle competition in Harbor Park Feb. 1 and 2. There were a lot of pieces to put together to make Winterfest and CamJam work this year, including support from Camden’s Town Manager Pat Finnigan, Landon Fake and the Camden Parks and Recreation Department, the Camden Snow Bowl crew, the Camden Public Works Department, the Camden Fire Department, the Camden Downtown Business Group, the Pen Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, Steve Pixley and Michael Bonney of the Snow Bowl, Al Cooper, Zenith Program volunteers, and many others.
Businesses supporting Winterfest festivities in the Amphitheater included Rankin’s, Wallace Tent and Party Rentals, Pro Rental of Rockport, Planet, Windward House B&B, and Grand Banks Events + Entertainment. Sponsors of the CamJam in Harbor Park were Maine Sport Outfitters, French and Brawn, Sidecountry Sports, the Puffins Nest, and Stay Alpha. Ten snow sculptors from around Maine shared their talents free of charge, and their visit to Camden was coordinated by Jennifer Temple of Clean Bee Laundry and Emily Lusher, in conjunction with the Camden Downtown Business Group. Lodging for the sculptors was generously donated by the Country Inn, the Lord Camden Inn, and the Towne Motel, and the sculptors’ meals were provided by the Bagel Café, the Camden Deli, Cappy’s, and Cuzzy’s Restaurant.
The ice carving teams this year were Camden Windward House Bed & Breakfast, Carver Hill Gallery, the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, Ivan Gomez, James Reitz, MCSA (Maine Coast Skaters Assoc.), Megunticook Rowing, Station Maine, and the Wayfinder School.
Amphitheater Winterfest events are presented by the Winterfest Committee and the Camden Public Library with support from our sponsor, The First. Thanks for the hard work from the Winterfest Committee: Kristi Bifulco, Caroline Morong, Dave Jackson, John Orlando, Amy Hand, Hank Lunn, Chris Wohler, Emily Lusher, Lucinda Ziesing and Anita Brosius-Scott.
Next year’s Winterfest Week will feature many of the same attractions and more. Starting on Jan. 31, 2015, with festivities and ice sculpting in the Amphitheatre, the CamJam in Harbor Park, and a Maine sanctioned snow-sculpting competition, Winterfest Week will culminate with the US National Toboggan Championships on Feb. 6, 7, and 8, 2015. Plan ahead on putting a team together for ice carving or for the Toboggan Nationals!
Chairman, Winterfest Committee, Camden Public Library
Membership Development Director, Pen Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce
On the evening of Friday, Jan. 3, the Knox Center for Long Term Care experienced unexpected flooding due to a burst sprinkler system pipe. Gratefully, no patients were put in harm’s way. The administrative offices and common areas were mostly affected and luckily, non-patient areas and patient rooms were spared from damage.
The words “thank you” seem insufficient to express the amount of gratitude, appreciation and respect we have for all of you who worked so hard and so well together through this event. The Knox Center was not just full of water; it was filled with loyalty and dedication to a building that is more than simply bricks and mortar. It is home to many.
To Knox Center staff who came in off-duty to assist with the turbulence, you showed true selflessness and camaraderie with one another. This is why we love working here.
To Knox Center staff who were here working and realized that in spite of all odds, your job still needed to be completed. You worked without complaint so that our residents remained well cared for. You just did what was needed to be done! Upon my arrival at 8 p.m. that night, I got a sense that you all just dug in, the way responders, caregivers and wonderful human beings do!
We would like to say a hearty thank you to the following community partners for their part during and since the event: Rockland Fire Department; McCormick & Associates, Inc.; Superior Restoration Services; Eastern Fire & Sprinkler; New England Fireproofing; Capozza Flooring; Thayer Corporation; Pen Bay Information Services department and countless others including our residents, families and visitors for their patience and understanding while we clean up and look new again!
Carl Chadwick, Administrator
On behalf of Knox Center for Long Term Care