“The overwhelming feelings expressed by those who attended the meeting and by those who spoke, did not support a large capacity boat,” said Barbara Carter, a full-time resident of Peaks Island earlier today. Ms. Carter, had just returned to Portland from the meeting at the elementary school on the Island when mhn.com met her. The meeting ran from 10:00 am until `12:40 pm as expected.
Initially, there was a brief presentation by Hank Berg, general manager, of Casco Bay Lines, on the oversized ferry. That segment was followed by numerous comments and questions from the crowd that Berg tried to answer. The current ferry has a maximum capacity of 399 and the proposed new ferry will have a maximum capacity of 600 passengers.
“This has clearly been on the fast track with no public input. This is the first official meeting to find out how Islanders feel about the larger size ferry. They are not being creative,” said Ms. Carter. “We have no infrastructure to deal with 600 people coming to the Island every hour, she added.
Others have pointed out the lack of public restrooms, public water, trash bins and the narrow roadways on the Island that will overwhelm the Island unprepared to accommodate such crowds.
On March 4, 2019 Lisa Penalver, a Peaks Island resident, wrote a letter to the regional head of the Federal Transportation Association in Massachusetts pointing out there have been “limited opportunity” for public involvement as the grant requires. The meeting occurring this morning was hastily put together by Casco Bay Lines.
In five days, March 28th, the Board of the Transit District will vote on the matter. When Mr. Berg was asked if that vote could be delayed, he said he didn’t know because that was up to the Board to decide.
Plans for a new ferry have been underway for many months, because mhn.com has heard reference to the subject at city committee meetings. The plan has been kept under wraps to avoid public scrutiny.
Please see post herein dated March 12, 2019 for more background information on the controversy.