Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor, March 8

Mar 08, 2018

Yachting Solutions plan benefits the few at the expense of the many

At a meeting Thursday night (March 1), in Rockland City Council chambers, it was stated that city employees have acted in support of an application by Stuart Smith (Rockland Harbor Park LLC) and Bill Morong (Yachting Solutions Inc.). This application, which was approved last summer, was for a federal grant of $1,046,760 to be used to extend Yachting Solutions' current private marina (referred to on their website as “ever expanding”) by more than 2,000 linear feet. This request, we were told, was based on plans for an ongoing project that would eventually include a “wave attenuating” barrier that would reach more than halfway across the inner harbor.

Today I stood at the seawall of Rockland Harbor Park and watched the harbor respond to a much-publicized northeast storm. While water did splash above the level of the seawall, there were no large waves, even in today's high winds. I sail a 10-foot dinghy in the harbor and have never encountered dangerous waves inside the Army Corps of Engineers breakwater. Any mariner of even modest experience knows when to stay off the water and how to secure a docked or moored craft in preparation for a storm. The proposed marina expansion is a private project that offers little or no benefit to Rockland Harbor and will, in fact, obstruct the use of the harbor by longtime residents and visitors.

Those of us who have accepted the facts of climate change and its impact on sea-level rise and weather patterns recognize the necessity of spending some of our precious federal dollars preparing for what may come as these unpredictable patterns shift. This necessity does not include building coastal and offshore infrastructure that benefits a handful of private yacht owners, owned by fewer than 1 percent of the world's population. The federal application referred to the facility as being built to serve megayachts. According to Boating International, there are approximately 10,000 such boats, over 100 feet in length, worldwide.

These funds would be better spent reinforcing the existing breakwater, which, even when awash as it was today, does an excellent job of protecting our harbor.

I hope you will make yourself aware of the meeting and hearing schedule for this plan and be present to learn about this project and respond to it, before the view from the landing and the access to our common harbor change irrevocably.

Shlomit Auciello

Rockland

Yachting Solutions is offering a Trojan horse

Last Thursday, March 1, a big crowd of Rocklanders showed up to discuss the Yachting Solutions harbor proposal. Thank you to our city government for trusting us with the keys. Next time, could we televise?

Councilor Lisa Westkamper was there, Harbor Commission member David Leon, and Councilor Ed Glaser. Mr. Neville, who designed the Yachting Solutions Harbor Plan was there. Capt Jack organized the meeting. Mr. Calivas moderated .

The current Yachting Solutions map was on the big screen. Mr. Calivas opened with a careful overview of the project as he understood it. He ended by saying their plans were hard to figure out and we could not know the whole story until they filed with the state. Open microphone: 1. One lady asked where the dockside fuel tanks had gone -- they had disappeared off this latest Yachting Solutions map..2. Joe Steinburger went to the map and said Yachting Solutions had drawn boundaries that trespassed into our area. 3. Others mentioned no tax revenues for the city .4. Many mourned the loss of reasonable access to their boats..5. George Chappell, retired reporter, now back to cover this story, spoke about a case in York where that town strengthened colonial law in order to stop aggressive harbor development. (It worked.) 6. Neal Parker gave a short, hilarious but agonizing Powerpoint presentation of the visual consequences of this development.There was much more.

The takeaway lesson for me was when the Yachting Solutions designer, Mr. Neville, firmly corrected the moderator's statement on the Wave Attenuator. Mr. Neville contradicted what was generally heard at the City Council public meeting. That confused us. We stopped to get his tutorial on reading the map. I learned: “The Pink Map” is Phase One and has no wave attenuator. The so-called, "Big Map” is Phase Two and has the wave attenuator. The two phases are represented in one map, which makes it confusing.

To get Phase One completed, the city must remove a mooring field and eliminate the south channel. Please note: Yachting Solutions must have that mooring field and that channel removed for Phase Two. It is my opinion that if the city relinquishes its mooring field and channel rights at Phase One, the city passively gives the green light for Phase Two. Am I wrong?

ln my opinion, Rockland is being forced to close a deal on both Phase One and Phase Two, applying the criteria and consequences pertaining only to Phase One. If the City Council removes the channel and mooring field for Phase One, it passively permits Phase Two. They say this Free-Phase-One-Harbor-Plan is a gift. But it looks like a Trojan horse to me. Giving away our mooring and channel rights in Phase One gives Yachting Solutions all it needs to develop Phase Two without having to listen to us ever again.

Phase Two is designed to accommodate mega-yachts and cruise ships. It is undisputed that the wave attenuator will block the harbor view of the breakwater and the islands year-round and forever. Can you live with that?

Debby Atwell

Rockland

War on addiction meets its D-Day

It is time for our community to get organized and to take local action on the war against drug addiction. By all measurements, this terrible problem continues to worsen and is affecting thousands of people in Midcoast Maine. While we do have some excellent leaders representing our community, it is also clear that many local, state and federal leaders are not effectively leading us out of this problem.

As with any important social movement, change will need to come from local residents who will choose to take a stance for change. This is our time.

Two weeks ago, Atrorney General Janet Mills released the latest report about drug overdose deaths in Maine. The death rate continues to climb relentlessly, up another 11 percent to 418 deaths from 2016 to 2017. Over the past two years, the overdose death rate went up by 50 percent, clearly showing that this epidemic continues to spiral out of control.

In America, drug overdose deaths are now the number-one cause of death for people under age 50 – 65,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2016. For the first time in the past 50 years, the average life expectancy for Americans has fallen two years in a row, due to the opioid epidemic.

In Knox County, 10 percent of babies are born from mothers addicted to opiates, 25 percent of teens use drugs regularly, 90 percent of inmates at the Knox County Jail are addicted to drugs and thousands of residents struggle with addiction and related poverty with very little support and help.

Elves will not come in the night to solve our addiction problems. While our government is starting to address this issue, too little is being done, and too late, to slow this epidemic. If we don’t get organized and begin to take local action, this will bankrupt our community. Already, the cost to each of us is thousands of dollars a year, which would be much better spent on treatment rather than on picking up the many broken pieces of untreated disease.

The Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition plans to coordinate a series of meetings for Midcoast Maine residents to become educated, provide input and to get involved in solutions. For now, mark your calendars to plan to attend one of these two meetings to join together to make battle plans to fight this terrible plague on our community:

Wednesday, April 18, at 4 p.m. at the Oceanside High School Auditorium

Wednesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. at the Camden Regional High School Auditorium

Stay tuned for more information about these meetings and plans to energize our community to action. For questions, contact us at 701-1182 or info@midcoastrecovery.org.

Ira Mandel, MD, MPH

Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition

Rockland

Ropeless lobster fishing

After reading the "Ropeless lobster fishing" article in the March 1 Courier, I was certain there was a mistake -- April Fools hadn't arrived early this year -- or had it?

The scientific portion of my brain sprung into inventive mode, and thus a proposal to help solve the "rope on lobster traps" problem.

Why not implant lobster eggs or tiny baby lobsters with inflatable life jackets? These would automatically inflate when a desirable weight of, say, 1 1/2 pounds, was reached -- thus bringing the unsuspecting crustaceans to the surface, where a ropeless trap awaits its arrival! Those traps would, of course, be organic, which would allow the automatic release of "catch" from the dissolving trap in case the lobsterman (or lobsterlady) never returned to the spot to retrieve his or her "catch.” This failed because the GPS had been interfered with by the Russians!

The above solution is almost as likely to happen as ropeless fishing!

April Fool early.

Claire Frye

Camden

Cruisin' to Graduation on blocks for this year

This is to inform everyone that the annual Medomak Valley High School "Cruisin' to Graduation" Car Show Committee has retired after 17 years of successful fundraising for Project Graduation and the Car Show Scholarship. Therefore, the car show will not happen this May.

It continues to be our hope that in the future a new parent group will form to restructure this wonderful event. The committee would like to thank you and all the car show exhibitors, our fans, our founding members, car show expertise members and their team of car show enthusiasts, our corporate and business sponsors and contributors, students and their families, parents, friends and volunteers, and the entire Medomak Valley and greater Midcoast community for their 17 years of support for this event.

We thoroughly enjoyed bringing this event together that celebrated automobiles, trucks and motorcycles for many generations to appreciate and we thank you for being a part of this special event that helped countless students of Medomak Valley High School.

MVHS "Cruisin' to Graduation" Car Show Committee

Waldoboro

Giving starts at home

What began with The Home Kitchen Cafe’s generosity became a part of “home” for many of our area’s residents. On behalf of the Rockland District Nursing Association, we sincerely and gratefully thank James Hatch and Susan Schiro for reaching out and beyond. We are encouraged by the waitstaff’s enthusiastic collection of donations. We are humbled by the kindness of so many in the community in giving. Through these efforts, awareness was broadened of the many people among us who need our services and those of our co-recipient, the Knox County Homeless Coalition.

Our community truly cares! Thank you to The Home Kitchen Cafe for helping us make a difference.

Anna Ware, RN

RDNA Board President

Rockland

Citizens, businesses support bag ban

We write to show our strong support for Rockland’s proposed single-use bag ordinance, which incentivizes the use of reusable bags via a ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers, and a small fee on paper bags.

We are thrilled that this policy demonstrates the high value that Rockland places on our collective health and the health and beauty of the oceans, animals and all the places where plastic bags and styrofoam often collect. Similar ordinances have been shown to have significant positive environmental impact and are an effective step that we can take in regard to climate change and environmental protection: reducing waste, reducing plastics in our environment and reducing our carbon footprint.

An October 2015 Portland Press Herald article estimated that every human being in the United States uses 360 plastic bags a year, with “almost 479 million bags used annually in Maine alone.” But policies can help reduce this wasteful consumption. Six months after Portland instituted a fee on single-use bags, The Portland Press Herald reported that Hannaford had seen a dramatic increase in customers using reusable bags — rising from “about 10 percent” before the ordinance to “more than 80 percent.”

A study published in November 2012 found that San Jose, Calif.’s plastic bag ban with a 10-cent paper bag charge led to an 89 percent reduction in the number of plastic bags winding up in the city's storm drains. In addition, the city found a 60 percent reduction of plastic bags in creeks, rivers, city streets and neighborhoods.

Some people in Rockland are suggesting that the fee-for-paper-bag policy should only apply to the larger stores in town. However, we feel strongly that the fee on paper bags at stores should be applied city-wide. This policy will work best when applied equally.

It reduces confusion and creates clarity. It also equalizes the playing field — why should someone buying bread at Hannaford pay 10 cents for a bag (and, hopefully, be incentivized to bring a reusable bag), but not when shopping downtown?

Locals and tourists will come to Rockland, and shop here, with or without a fee on bags. Fears of a drop in sales are unfounded. In fact, no credible studies have shown a reduction in sales after similar policies were passed. As a city, we can choose to impress visitors with our commitment to our environment — and do our small part to influence everyone’s thinking and habits. And with these ordinances becoming more and more common, visitors will come to see them as the norm. We should take action as a whole community — downtown businesses included — to send a strong, positive message to our residents, children and visitors about the values that we share as a whole community.

There is one addition that we would suggest: as some other towns have done, Rockland should waive the bag fee for those who are using WIC or SNAP for groceries if they have forgotten their reusable bag. The purpose of the ordinance is to change our habits, which can still be effective, but need not burden our most financially challenged residents.

We are Rockland residents, business owners, organizations, workers, visitors and shoppers, and we will be proud to see Rockland join many other Maine towns and cities in taking steps towards the protection of the environment and our own health.

Debby Atwell

Rockland

Joe Auciello

Rockland

Chelsea Avirett

Rockland

Polly Armstrong

South Thomaston

Sarah Baldwin

South Thomaston

Sarah Bartz

Rockland

Trisha Badger

Jefferson

Thia Belajonas

Thomaston

Annie Bailey

Tenants Harbor

Kim Bernard

Rockland

Callie Black

Rockland

Bridget Buck

Rockland

Christos Calivas

Rockland

Laurence Anne Coe

Rockland

Joel Cooke

Rockland

Lynne Barnard

Rockland

Nathan Davis

Rockland

Benjamin Dorr

Rockland

Bella Feracci

Rockland

Amy Files

Rockland

Kathryn Fogg Hill

Rockland

Becca Shaw Glaser

Rockland

David C. Hamann

Rockland

Connie Hayes

Rockland

Alanna Hernandez

Rockland

Antonio Hernandez

Rockland

Michael Irvin

Rockland

Anna Jennings

Rockland

Amanda LaBelle

Rockland

Jo Lindsay

Tenants Harbor

Annie Mahoney

Rockland

Lynne Manning

Rockland

Lisa Millette

Rockland

Barbara S. Mogel

Rockland

Ralph Moore

Rockland

Abi Morrison

Rockland

Brystle Noble

Thomaston

Rhonda Nordstrom

South Thomaston

Jeff Oehlert

Rockland

Matthew and Leah Ondra

Rockland

Dee Peppe

Rockland

Daniel Quintanilla

Rockland

Vas Prabhu

Rockland

Bobby Schneider

Rockland

Emily Seymour

Rockland

Alexander Shaw

Rockland

Asha Stager

Rockland

Kyle Swan

Rockland

Sarah Szwajkos

Camden

George Terrien

Rockland

Jill Valliere

Rockland

Marcel Valliere

Rockland

Claire T. Weinberg

Rockland

Andy White

Union

Rose Wilson

Rockland

Susan Wind

Rockland

Joan Wright

Rockland

Businesses

ADW Maker

Thomaston

Bella Luna Toys

Rockland

Brystle Noble’s Fitness

Rockland

Clementine

Rockland

Coastal Maine Photo Tours

Rockland

Curator

Rockland

Dulse & Rugosa

Rockland

Periscope

Rockland

RHEAL Day Spa

Rockland

Sarah Szwajkos Photography | Damn Rabbit Studios

Rockland

SeaMoss Weekly Tourist Rental

Rockland

Steel House

Rockland

Trillium Soaps

Rockland

Two Harbors Studio

Rockland

Valliere Design Studio

Rockland

wilderbydesign

Rockland

Organizations

First Universalist Church

Rockland

Renew Rockland

Rockland

World Ocean Observatory

Sedgwick

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