Tank demonstrators come from miles aroundSome locals question protest's impact on businesses
Searsport — Several Midcoast residents lined Main Street Sunday afternoon, July 8, to participate in a demonstration opposing a proposed 22.7-million-gallon liquefied petroleum gas storage tank at Mack Point, and apparently not everyone in town was happy about it.
While some participants were Searsport residents, others came from neighboring communities, including Stockton Springs, Belfast, Lincolnville, Camden, Rockport and Penobscot. More than 60 demonstrators attended the two hour protest. They carried signs that called attention to questions about the proposal from DCP Midstream of Denver, Colo.
While some in passing vehicles offered honks and waves to indicate support for the demonstration, others yelled criticisms at the group. A man who was passing by on foot commented, "Blocking pedestrian traffic is not cool."
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton of Lincolnville said she came out to call attention to questions residents in her hometown raised at a June 25 meeting of the Lincolnville Board of Selectmen, during which time the board agreed to send a letter of concern regarding the project to the Town of Searsport.
"We're an inter-connected system, and we really need to look at this in a broader view," she said.
Leighton said she and some of her neighbors presented a letter to their Select Board that included 30 signatures of Lincolnville residents who shared concerns about everything from how Lincolnville might benefit from a mutual aid agreement with Searsport to the project's potential impacts on the environment.
Leighton also expressed concern about what the entire process of importing and exporting LPG from a facility at Mack Point might entail, from the time a fuel-filled tanker enters the bay to deliver the product to the terminal to how it gets distributed and where it's all going from there.
"This is about the industrialization of Penobscot Bay," she said. "Is that what we as a region want? Is that in our economic best interest?"
Others displayed signs urging DCP representatives to present a full-scale model of the storage tank and surrounding buildings, an issue that arose at the June Searsport Planning Board meeting. At that time, company representatives balked at creating the model and stated the exercise would be cost-prohibitive.
At one point during the demonstration, Searsport resident Faith Garrold approached the Republican Journal and questioned how having a group of protesters standing on the sidewalks might adversely impact the small businesses along the Main Street corridor.
"These people are not going to stop and wade through this mess to get into the [Penobscot] Marine Museum," she said, referring to the passers-by on Route 1.
Moments later, Garrold could be heard asking how many of the demonstrators were Searsport taxpayers, at which time demonstrator Joelle Madiec stated that she is a taxpayer of Stockton Springs, and that the project could affect her town as well as Searsport if it were to become reality.
Simultaneously, Searsport residents Don Garrold and tank opponent Peter Taber got into a debate about the project proposal and the demonstration, after which Garrold told Taber, "You're so wrong."