Well it snowed again. We didn’t get as much as we were told we were going to…. big surprise. After school was cancelled and I was plugging away teaching myself how to use Dreamweaver (which I am now a huge fan of and can’t wait to start building websites) it changed over from snow to rain. Mark got stuck in the driveway – soooooo not happy! But we got him unstuck and the day went on. As I’m sitting here typing he is sleeping, dishes are done, Annaliese is showered and in bed and I am wondering what to write about. I don’t think I’ll write about much actually. I’ve done a lot of writing between the two posts last night and a letter to the editor that after boucing it off Annie I felt comfortable sending off to the two local papers. I’ve only written one other letter to the editor ever and that was back in high school. I get passionate about a lot of things, but am hesitate to share those with others outside my circle because I can be…well…. passionate. I can argue anything to death if I believe in it. Actually in my high school year book in the leave something to someone section I wrote ” I leave the ability to argue for a good reason to anyone who needs it”. Anyway I once again find myself “passionate” about something.
I suppose I should back up a minute and explain. You already know I work for the Schooner J&E Riggin, and have for 5 years…..June with be 6 with them. I consider the captains, their kids and the passengers I’ve come to know and love as part of my extended family. So here’s the thing… they are a part of a group called the Maritime Traditions Group MTG) and have been working with the Schooner Nathaniel Bowditch and Schooner Stephen Taber to build a permanent home for themselves in a part of Rockland Harbor called Lermond Cove. Now this part of town is right behind the historic section/shopping district that everyone knows. The city of Rockland has been talking for quite sometime about revitalizing that part of the shopping district called Tillson Ave, which back in its hayday was bustling with fisherman and such. It now has the US Coast Guard station along with a couple of marinas and of course the sewage treatment plant. In order for the MTG to build their docks so they can have a permanent home they had to have an act pass through congress…next time you have something that you are trying to do and it just isn’t working try going through congress! Long story short……I know too late…. the bill passed and MTG has permission to dredge the cove. Next problem. MTG at one point wanted to place the dredge spoils on land and make it green space next to the parking lot or dump it out at sea. The problem is its polluted. The city brook that the storm drains empty to exits right in Lermond Cove, its got the pollution for decades of fishing vessels, not to mention the sewage overflow emptied there as well. While this isn’t happening anymore the bottom of the ocean floor in Lermond Cove is nasty! So the spoils are being required to be dumped at the local dump. Lets just for keeping this not toooooo long that its a 1 mil project to dump all the spoils. Now….what would you think…. would the city pay to have the spoils of this polluted harbor floor in the city of Rockland created by the city of Rockland or would you thing the captains of these three boats would pay for it? It really seems like a no brainer to me….and thank goodness there are some smart folks on the city council for they voted Monday night 4 to 1 to waive the dumping fee. Yeah for MTG!!
Now what frosts my cookies is this one counciler – I won’t mention any names *cough, cou-thompson-gh* who voted against this isn’t the only person in the city who thinks this way. Have all the facts before you go making opinions – I mean geez thats just common sense. And I hear people saying that these schooner owners are snobby and just like private yacht owners. That people imagine them spending their summers just sailing around rolling in the dough and are looking for a free pass from the city. I’ve even heard this type of talk from a good friend of mine – who before me didn’t have any idea what these boats did. These captains are working their asses off. Yes, they sail all summer, but they are working hard, they contribute to the area, they shop locally, and they offer low impact, green, eco-vacations on National Historic Landmarks. These aren’t yupity yacht owners who sit around while some sails them around our bays while eating bon-bons.
Whew……I guess I did have more to say about it then I thought. My intention was to just give you a background on the topic at hand and post my letter to the editor of the Courier Gazette and Village Soup, which I have posted below. A couple of the comments refer to comments someone else posted on the Courier’s website. After reading it…..let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter. I’d be most interested to know.
“I’m amazed that we as citizens aren’t saying thank you to the schooner owners for spearheading the redevelopment of Tillson Ave- I’ve been hearing lots of talk but have seen no action with the exception of what the schooner captains are doing.
For starters the space they are looking to use isn’t usable until it’s dredged. The dredge spoils are polluted…..they were polluted by the citizens of Rockland. Why wouldn’t the city pay to have it cleaned? By making this decision they are not only making the right choice, but they are cleaning up our harbor – the one we all love to sit and look at. Did you ever wonder what was under the water? Well now you know.
If we as tax paying citizens of the city want to redevelop the Tillson Ave area what better place to start then our biggest asset – the waterfront! I mean seriously – we want the tourists to come here and spend their money yet here are 3 small businesses trying to help make this happen and we want to make them pay to clean up the city’s pollution – okay because that makes sense. If the Tillson Ave area isn’t used for the boating industry, what else do we put there – manufacturing type businesses? I’m sure that will go over well with the tourists who want to come to a coastal town in Maine! Why not make it attractive and support our own instead of something that is more polluting, smelly and ugly?
These schooner owners are tax paying citizens living in Rockland. They pay taxes just like we all do. These aren’t people who are being given a free ride. They are working hard at making their business succeed. The little guy….these owners are the little guys too!
And Thompson’s view on the passengers not spending money here – how do the passengers get here – they drive and buy gas, or rent a car, or fly into our local airport, or use the taxi and limo services. What do they eat when they get here? Exactly they go out to dinner- walking to the downtown merchants to buy their meals, wine, and go shopping. They also buy any supplies they need for their trip. And where do you suppose the captains of these schooners get their supplies? Right again – local businesses most of which are right here in Rockland. And it’s not just about the passengers on these schooners. We are a tourist destination – just look at the cruise ships that have started docking in Rockland. Tourism is a part of our local economy whether we like it or not.
And the excise tax! The city doesn’t send a bill out for the excise tax. How are you supposed to know that you owe it? I never thought of a boat paying excise tax….does every boat owner both private and commercial pay excise tax. I suppose Thompson should look into that before singling out just these two.
It makes me so mad to hear such a negative opinion from people who don’t know the all the facts. We are such a small-knit community that to not support our local businesses is just not smart. I for one support Rockland’s small businesses. I also support these windjammer and schooner captains – I think they provide a great service to our local economy and to our nation’s history. I’m so glad the council passed the waiver and I agree with Hebert in that this is a great investment for the City. Rockland has the potential to become the Windjammer Capital – we already have more schooners then any other harbor in Maine. How is that for a tourist attraction or tag line – Rockland, the Windjammer Capital! We actually do call our selves the “Windjammer Capital of the World” we just don’t seem to want to support the title. “
There I think I have said my peace for now. Have a great tomorrow!