Letters, 11/22

Nov 22, 2012

Applauds school columnist

Congratulations to The Republican Journal's newest columnist, Mariah Albanese. Her coverage of events in Regional School Unit 20 was a well written, interesting mixture of topics. I especially enjoyed her courageous investigation of the "drastic changes" that she described at the Searsport District High School cafeteria. Acknowledging that the lunch ladies just work there and have not created the changes, she certainly covered well what seems to be a real issue for the students.

I look forward to the topics she will investigate in her future columns. It should be very interesting for her fellow students to now have an actual member of the paparazzi in their midst.

Charlene Knox Farris

Searsport

Turn away DCP, not retirees

A few years ago an initiative was put forth by town managers to attract retirees to Searsport. This turned out to be a good plan as it was easy to attract people to an area that has a beautiful, unspoiled coastline, clean air, lots of recreational opportunities and an inviting town with historic buildings and small businesses.

Many retirees including myself came and bought houses in the area. We invested a large part of our retirement savings renovating old houses and starting businesses. In addition to those who moved here, there are scores of people who have lived in Searsport for all or part of their lives and have chosen to stay here in retirement. We are a significant slice of the population.

We volunteer in the community, support the local economy, hire local carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters, landscapers, etc. and make no demands on the schools. Retirees support the town of Searsport and strongly contribute to the economy.

The LPG import facility proposed by DCP does not fit the profile of life in Searsport. The scale of the project is too big; it will dominate the landscape, be visible up and down the coast for miles (especially all lit up at night), and have a very negative effect on life in our town. Many people moved to this area to escape heavy industry and the noise, congestion and pollution associated with industrial facilities. Some will be left with properties that will be unsalable and it will be almost impossible to attract new residents to Searsport. Given the choice, who would voluntarily invest in property that most likely will lose value and be subject to property tax increases?

In reviewing the Searsport site planning performance standards, it is obvious that DCP does not, and cannot, meet the standards and their application should be denied. For instance, there are provisions that state the landscape shall be preserved in its natural state and tree removal, disturbance of soil and existing vegetation should be minimized. This project clear-cuts nearly 24 acres of coastal forest and destroys more than three acres of wetlands.

There is a standard which states that any building or structure “shall be related harmoniously with the surround terrain and to existing buildings within the vicinity…” This mega-tank at 14 stories tall would have to be sited in Portland to be surrounded by a comparably tall structure. There are standards on exterior lighting which spell out any project should have “a minimal unreasonable effect on neighboring properties.” We know from the application this mega-tank will be brightly illuminated 365 nights a year. Two-thirds of the U.S. population no longer sees the night sky due to man-made light sources. Human-produced light pollution not only mars our view of the stars, it threatens astronomy, disrupts ecosystems and affects human circadian rhythms. These are just three of the standards; there are many others we could illustrate.

As Senator Susan Collins stated, “The environment is our economy,” and as DCP states in their application, “The no-action alternative would avoid all of the direct environmental impacts that would be associated with the proposed project.” Our town fathers decided wisely to promote Searsport's unique beauty and history to attract retirees to Searsport. The result is a durable small business economy, where big business is welcome too, when it agrees to meet our town's performance standards. Irving Oil does. Sprague Energy does. But DCP won't. The Searsport Planning Board should have no difficulty turning away their wrongheaded proposal.

Janet Williams

Searsport

Tank proposal inspires 'a great sadness'

After attending the TBNT [Thanks But No Tank] protest circle at Waterfall Arts in Belfast, to show a living footprint of the Conoco-Phillips liquid propane storage tank proposed for the Mack Point tank farm area in Searsport, I came away with many mixed feelings.

The first was the size of the proposed tank. I think to say "enormous" would be an understatement. Secondly, as I looked in vain to find a familiar face of the many people that I knew from the many  years that I spent on the bay, from recreation to fishing for various species of shellfish. From this lack of interest, I felt a great sadness, because I cannot believe that this endeavor of Conoco-Phillips will not have a tremendous impact on everyone who uses the bay.

My greatest sadness was realized when recalling the days spent on Penobscot Bay that I cannot recall a single day that I did not stand in awe of the majestic beauty of the bay, and I surely hope that future generations will ahae the opportunity to marvel at all the bay has to offer.

Lastly, I recognition that our region needs much needed employment opportunities, not everything that comes along in an opportunity. What comes to mind is a grim warning from a demolition instructor of years ago, in the 262 Combat Engineers, and that was "when handling explosives, you only get  one oops!"

Whatever the outcome of this endeavor, I sincerely hope it's one that we call can live with.

Steve Webster

Belfast

Treasure what you have

My name is Billie Bakhshi. I am a mom of four great kids, and live in Abington, Pa. (a suburb of Philadelphia), approximately a 14-hour drive away from you.

So why am I writing to you fine folks, especially when I clearly don't live in Maine?

Last summer, my husband and I packed up our kiddos and the family minivan to embark on a journey I think our kids will remember for a lifetime. Our destination: Searsport Shores Camp Ocean.

We loved biking around, fishing, checking out the harbor areas, downtown areas, shops, restaurants and co-ops. It tickled us immensely, while having a meal at Young's Lobster Pound, to see staff going out, pulling traps and bringing in fresh catch.

That's something we could never do at home. Here in the Philadelphia area, we have tanks and refineries. Our waterways are extremely polluted. You wouldn't want to eat fish out of our waters. We make jokes about three-eyed fish monsters, only after seeing how folks live (and fish) in Maine, the joke is not so funny. It's just sad.

Don't get me started on the smell in the areas surrounding the refineries, and instead I'll tell you about consequences in air quality for having tanks and refineries, plus the extra traffic (and exhaust) of tanker trucks. We have an extraordinarily high childhood asthma rate in Philadelphia. It's awful to see a child wheezing, and know that it's largely due to pollution.

It's too late for Philadelphia. Our tanks, our refineries aren't going anywhere. But you all still have a choice.

You all, who are gifted in that you get to live your lives in such pristine surroundings, should treasure it! Don't be so quick to let it go. There are some things that money and jobs (which I am sure you all have been promised) cannot buy. Namely, your health and your environment... these are not things that are easy to restore, once compromised. And if you pay attention to history, oil companies are kind of slow to take responsibility, and actually do something following a catastrophe. Folks in the Gulf states could tell you a thing or two about that, I am sure... except they are probably kind of busy, still recovering from the aftermath of a spill.

Bottom line: there's a reason why folks like me and my husband will endure a 14-hour drive in a minivan full of kids to visit a place like Searsport. You're one of the last untouched destinations on the East Coast... we've actually considered moving to Searsport. Honestly, though, if the tanks do come, that's a deal-breaker, and not just for moving there, but for vacationing there.

After all, we can do the pollution thing right here at home.

Billie Bakhshi

Abington, Pa.

Obama on the side of al-Qaeda

We now know that the president had to know almost immediately that the Benghazi attack was a deliberate, well planned attack on the American Embassy in Libya by al-Qaeda that killed our ambassador and three other Americans who were trying to protect him and the embassy. The denials of that position are crumbling.

We also know that no one other than the president would have the interest and authority to instruct Ambassador Rice to go before five major TV networks and lie to America as to why our embassy was attacked by blaming it on a hateful anti-Muslim film by a deranged American.

Then, weeks after everyone knew how and why the al-Qaeda attack occurred, the president went on TV shows and then stood before the world, as your and my representative, and told the United Nations that the attack was caused by the anti-Muslim film. Five times, I believe.

Why, why would he do that? How could blaming the attack on the film serve a useful purpose when he knew it was al-Qaeda? Easy. In the warped perspective of our president and the Democrats, it gave the Muslims cover for the attack. It was our fault, you see. We are to blame for the attack. How can you not understand that?

David Huck

Swanville

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