February 28, 2004
Harpswell Board of Selectmen
263 Mountain Road
P.O. Box 39
Harpswell, ME 04079
Re: Written Testimony Fairwinds LNG Project
Dear Board of Selectmen:
On behalf of the Town of Cumberland, I wish to express our concerns with the proposed Fairwind Project in Harpswell. The Cumberland Town Council has taken no formal position on this project and fully supports the authority of the Board of Selectmen to undertake a public process on behalf of its residents.
The decision before you is a difficult one. In response to the State's looming budget crisis and the erosion of outside funding, this project might be eagerly seen as the "Property Tax Relief" panacea for any community. As Town Manager, I admit I would toil extensively to weigh the competing effects of such a project.
As you are aware, we are an island neighbor to Harpswell. Cumberland's population includes Chebeague Island's 350 year round residents. Nearly 75 Chebeague Island lobstermen and fishermen earn their livelihood in the waters off Harpswell. The underlying economy which supports those fishermen includes marinas, the local store, and trades such as mechanics, boat builders, and other related services. The fishing industry has served as the stronghold of Chebeague Island for generations.
Cumberland's concerns are due primarily to a lack of information and participation related to this project. We fully understand this hearing to be only the first step in the process, but our initial step is taken in the dark. We urge you to spearhead a process to incorporate communities who are wholly or severely impacted, as is the case with Cumberland.
With that in mind, we respectfully request your assistance in the following ways:
With this project outside our direct control and without firsthand knowledge of the LNG application, it has been difficult for me and the elected officials to respond to the onslaught of questions from our residents. We believe strongly that good government must provide accurate, timely responses to its citizenry in order to maintain trust and confidence. To date, Cumberland's information has been limited to second-hand news at best. This scarcity of information has only served to exacerbate the burgeoning demand for facts and input.
The Town of Cumberland extends our best regards as you deliberate this important matter. If the LNG Plant is approved, we respectfully request the opportunity to collaborate as neighbors in order to dialogue our issues with you. We hope you will acknowledge the significant impact to the citizens of Cumberland if you choose to move forward with this project and issue a response to these significant concerns.
William R. Shane
Cumberland Town Manager