I had an entirely different post written for today, but I changed my mind after receiving a press notice that NRCM and Maine Audubon were going to have a couple of news conferences on Thursday 12 June. It seems Plum Creek’s plans for developing are still under attack, and thankfully so, in my opinion. This multi year struggle for this behemoth company from away to turn Maine’s Northwoods territory into a rich boys hideaway has gone on for too long. It would be nice if the promises made by the developers and associated proponents such as TNC would be true, but I don’t see as any of them will be kept. Nor will they be able to protect the environment, either. A lot of claims are made, but the issues as I see as being ones that need to be addressed are overlooked for whatever reasons.
One of the items I don’t seem to see addressed is the future consequences of the buildup of contaminants over time in the soils and water table. Increased population will bring increased pollutants, eventually destroying that which we are trying to preserve. Take a look at the Long Creek problem in South Portland. Decades ago nobody saw a problem with the increasing growth. The area would be developed, bringing and creating much needed employment to the area. But today, it’s one of the top polluted waterways in the US. Nobody foresaw the problems that a leaky radiator or oil pan on a car would create. Nobody foresaw any problems with the millions of sand and salt put down every winter to combat the icy roads. And nobody foresaw the burden an increasing population would have on the ecosystem of the Long Creek watershed.
Has anybody really addressed what will happen to Moosehead lake ten, twenty and thirty years and more from now? The plan today is for nearly one thousand living units to be built. Two resort areas with lodging facilities will be built. Golf courses and ski areas will be built. And all of this will have a steadily growing impact upon the people and the environment of the region. I have yet to see where the future infrastructure is addressed in this plan. Who will pay for the need for more, larger and new sewer and water distribution facilities? Will the property taxes form this development pay for the work? How about the transportation requirements? Who’s going to pay for the new roadways that will be needed? Plum Creek Timber? The developers they sell or lease to? TNC?
And what about the need for increased fire protection? With a growing population and accompanying housing, the need for fire suppression will increase to protect these new structures from wildfires. Who will staff the local fire departments? If, as implied by some, the population is mostly seasonal, will there be enough volunteers? Will the state of Maine be able to afford the cost and need to snuff these fires quickly? Will they even be able to? Maine has periodic spells of drought, resulting in widespread forest fires. It has been many years since we had a really severe drought, but we are due for another season, soon. What will be the imposed danger to the public from this threat?
How about medical care? Greenville has a hospital now, but will they be able to grow with the flow? Will they be able to attract enough staff to cover contingencies? And then there is the Law enforcement question. How much more will it cost to provide the protection needed for the growth of the population. Greenville cannot afford to patrol the areas out of their jurisdiction. Will the local County Sherriff or the State Police be able to provide the manpower? How much more will it cost the taxpayer?
And the taxpayer is the bottom line in this discussion today. All of these issues will need to be addressed at some point in the future, even though it should be done now. Most of this area is unorganized territory, maintained by the general taxes of the state of Maine. That means you and I, no matter where we live will be footing the bill for all of this development. Taxes are high enough as it is, without adding to the bill from this developer from away. Sure, if there is a building boom there will be a lot of opportunity in the construction trades. But what about after the boom? Will all of these construction workers be collecting unemployment? Or are there more developments secretly being planned to put these people to work?
Of course, there’s always the retail and entertainment industries to provide employment. How many people can a ski area employ year round? How many seasonal employees can a restaurant afford to hire year round? How many retail establishments are going to hire people full time at decent livable wages? The answer to the claim of providing employment is not a very good one. And it is one that can be neither verified nor supported as being a positive, growing contribution to the state of Maine. Construction is seasonal work. Retail does not pay decent livable wages anywhere in the state. Restaurants are fickle and come and go with the economy. You can’t ski in Maine in the summer and you can’t play golf in the winter.
Where in those hundreds of pages are these problems addressed? How does Plum Creek and TNC propose to handle these problems down the road when new storm drain systems and water treatment facilities have to be built? Are they willing to foot the bill, or are they going to take our money and run, leaving us with the bill ten or twenty years from now?
Thursday June 12, 2008
A WAY TO SAVE LILY BAY
9:15 a.m. Falmouth, Maine Audubon, Gilsland Farm
[From the north: take I-295 to exit 10 and then left on Bucknam Road. At the light turn right onto U.S. Route 1 and continue south for one mile. After the blinking light at the intersection of Routes 1 and 88, Gilsland Farm Road is on the right at the light blue sign. From the south: take I-295 to exit 9. Continue 1.9 miles north on U.S. Route 1 and turn left onto Gilsland Farm Road at the light blue sign, immediately before the intersection of Routes 1 and 88.]
2:00 p.m. Bangor Library Story Room, 145 Harlow St.
[From Interstate 95 take the Broadway Exit 185 (Old Exit 48). Turn left onto Broadway (Rte. 15) and go about one mile to where it intersects with State Street (Rte. 2). At this intersection the All Souls Congregational Church is across the street. Turn right onto State Street. Turn right at the bottom of the hill onto Harlow Street. City Hall is on the right and the Bangor Public Library is the next building on the right.]
Maine Audubon, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Moosehead Lake region residents and others to unveil an innovative new proposal to save Lily Bay from Plum Creek’s massive development.
Plum Creek has proposed to establish a resort and subdivisions with 404 houses, as well as stores, roads, a golf course, marina, and more in Lily Bay, on the quiet, undeveloped, East side of Moosehead Lake. All this development would be directly across the bay from one of Maine’s most popular state parks. Lily Bay is also home to prime habitat for the threatened Canada lynx. In hearing after hearing, Maine people clearly stated they want it protected from development.
For More Information:
Judy Berk, NRCM (207) 462-2192 (cell); (207) 622-3101 X 203 (o)
Elyse Tipton, Maine Audubon (207) 781-2330, ext. 229 or (207) 632-8983 (cell)