David R. Hill
314 Cousins Island Road
Yarmouth, ME 04096
Letters to the Editor
P. O. Box 66797
Falmouth, ME 04105
June 25, 1998
To the Editor:
If killing a man is homicide, then killing a community must be communicide.
And that is exactly what the Town of Yarmouth is proposing to do to Chebeague Island by suggesting that the "final solution" to the long-standing parking problem on Cousins Island is to move the parking lot -- lock, stock and barrel -- to a location on Route 1 in Cumberland.
This proposal has been made and rejected in the past for good reason. If it really were "better for Chebeague," it would be in place right now.
While this proposal is probably well-intentioned and has the ring of validity, in fact it would be the death knell for one of Maine's fourteen remaining island communities.
One-third of Chebeague's year-round population (about whom Yarmouth professes to care deeply) are living at or below the poverty level. Any increase to either the wage earners' commuting time or to the cost of transportation will result in people being unable to hold down a mainland job and ultimately being driven out of their homes.
It's difficult enough to live on an island, whether by choice or by heritage, and most islanders' existences are borderline fragile, at best. Forget about the logistics of how to get two buses to every single boat every single day, or where the buses would turn -- this is a delicate human ecology that must not be upset.
Many of the people who rely on their mainland autos do so independently of the ferry boat. These are the commercial fishermen trying to make a living, commuters in their own boats saving the cost of the ferry fare, people bringing sick or wounded children and animals to the mainland for care at all hours of the day and night. We're told they can call a taxi. A TAXI! Can they charge it to Yarmouth?
Just like in the 1950s when Chebeague came close to extinction, young families will move away, the school will close, and a community will die. An empty shell of an island will be left, an enclave for a remaining elitist summer colony. And Maine will be the poorer for its demise.
I have two questions: Would the small group of people on Cousins Island who believe that
this is "best for Chebeague" submit to such treatment? And will the Town of Yarmouth and the
MDOT be a party to "communicide?" I would certainly hope not. Don't let it happen.
David R. Hill
Access # since July 1, 1998