The future of cruise ships in Bar Harbor was discussed Tuesday at an open town meeting.
There are two proposed amendments on the upcoming June ballot – both highly debated topics.
It’s no secret visitorship is at an all-time high, town officials in Bar Harbor say.
How to cut down on congestion, and will a re-zoning of the old ferry terminal solve it?
“I mean, they’re good issues to have. Overcrowding goes hand-in-hand with a thriving economy here – where hotels are at capacity, people’s homes that they rent are at capacity,” said Bar Harbor’s planning board chairman, Tom St. Germain.
As the days wind down to town elections, many are wondering how to vote.
Proposed amendments with the most scrutiny:
Article 12: an amendment that, if passed, would develop the terminal for cruise ship and ferry use.
But if article 13 – the citizen initiative – is passed at all, Bar Harbor loses the option agreement to buy this property from the state.
“The citizens are gonna have a lot of input into what happens to the property, but the town needs to be able to own the property,” said a town business owner and resident, Judie Noonan.
“We have lost a lot of opportunity to solve some of these problems before they became problems, because there’s been a lot of political strife,” said St. Germain.
St. Germain says the overcrowding is not all because of cruise ship tourism. He says out of three million visitors last year, around 169,000 were cruise ship tourists. That means 94% were not.
“Well, we wouldn’t have the town that we did if we didn’t have the people coming in during the summer. But it’s very crowded, yes. I do change what I do and how I do it and how I travel around the island,” said resident Becky Carroll.
The town votes next month.
Town officials say believe article 12 will pass next month, to re-zone the old ferry terminal.
They say a consultant will prepare a plan for the space by November so they can tell the Department of Transportation they’ll be buying the property.