2003 January April August
LAND MANAGEMENT COMMISSION
QUARTERLY STATUS REPORT
I Introduction:This is the second Quarterly Status Report prepared by the Cranberry Isles Land Management Commission (LMC). The general membership LMC has convened twice monthly on average since the beginning of 2003. The various LMC SubCommittees have continued to hold numerous additional meetings to address the many issues involving parking, docking, leases & transport involving both Southwest Harbor (SWH) and Northeast Harbor (NEH) in preparation for the upcoming summer season. The majority of LMC work continues to involve the development and use of the Cranberry Isles Intermodal Transportation Facility in SWH. However, considerable hours have also been spent working on developing a long-term lease arrangement for parking in NEH. As we proceed into April work continues on all these issues.
As noted in the previous January Quarterly Status Report, most LMC work in 2002 focused on organizational & administrative planning leading up to the purchase of the Manset Property in SWH in December, 2002. During the First Quarter of 2003, emphasis has shifted towards task-oriented work conducted by the various subcommittees to address specific areas of interest. The work of each subcommittee, including accomplishments during the January - March, 2003 quarter, and planned objectives for the April - June, 2003 quarter, will be discussed in greater detail in this report. The Members of the Land Management Commission have continued to devote dozens of volunteer hours in support of Cranberry Isles' parking, docking & transportation interests, often at considerable sacrifice to personal lives and professional employment.
II Land Management Commission SubCommittees, Chairmen, and Areas of Responsibility (Updated):
|Fund Raising:||Barbara Fernald - Co Chairman|
Barbara Meyers - Co Chairman
Annual Town Report
Expert Resources List
|Phil Whitney - Chairman|
|Personnel:||Phil Whitney - Chairman|
|Leases:||Eve Harrison - Chairman|
Edward Gray - Chairman
Eve Harrison - Chairman
Barge / Freight Service
|Phil Whitney - Chairman|
Lease Fees / User Fees
Future Leases / Acquisitions
|David Thomas - Chairman|
|Edward Gray - Chairman|
|Buildings:||Eve Harrison - Chairman|
|Grounds:||Barbara Meyers - Chairman|
III LMC SubCommittee Activities:
Fund Raising: The subcommittee has been actively working with Gary Friedmann & Associates to plan strategies for raising monies to offset the purchase price of the Manset Property. They have organized & trained a number of year-round and seasonal people to participate in fundraising activities for the coming year. A Case Statement has been prepared and reproduced which is an exceptionally well-done, accurate & colorful portrayal of the Cranberry Isles, its unique lifestyle, year-round community struggle to survive, and the complicated process of acquiring the SWH Property to preserve our mainland independence. Several grant applications have been prepared by Friedmann & Associates, with many more forthcoming. Support for the Manset Property Project has come in various forms from many sources: Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT), Island Institute, Maine Seacoast Mission, Hancock County Planning Commission, Eastern Maine Development District, U.S. Senators Snowe & Collins, state & local government officials. Jill Goldthwait, our highly respected former State Senator, has agreed to be an advisor to the fund raising campaign committee. The Fund Raising Campaign officially started in February with an inter-island Bingo Challenge. The event proved very successful, with Great Cranberry raising $3331 and Islesford $1435. A solid turnout of islanders on the coldest night of the year resulted in a great evening of fun. Several year-round islanders also contributed donations in amounts ranging from $1000 to $50,000 (yes, that figure is correct!) during this quarter. One of the state grants, for which we were eligible, had its funding revoked. In lieu of receiving this money, the Maine State Planning Office will be facilitating public planning sessions for the future use of the property in Manset. They are currently developing plans for doing this through the Hancock County Planning Commission. By helping us develop a management plan and necessary ordinances, they hope to incorporate the results in a case study to be used by other island towns who are also looking to solve mainland access problems in the future. The Maine State Planning Office has also expressed interest in supporting government funding efforts for the project, providing logistical support if desired, and studying the Cranberry Isles Project as a pioneering prototype for other islands along the Maine Coast facing similar challenges of mainland access.
Public Relations: This subcommittee has been active on a variety of matters, reflective of its many areas of responsbility. It provided a summary of Year 2002 activities and projected goals for Year 2003 for the Annual Town Report. Cranberry Isles Parking & Docking Survey responses were received and tabulated. Total responses were nearly 70% of those sent, and provided much useful long-range planning information for the LMC. Media coverage was coordinated to the extent that local newspapers, including the Mount Desert Islander, Bar Harbor Times, and Working Waterfront regularly carried articles on the project progress. Ron Beard, host of "Talk of the Town" on WERU radio, interviewed Barbara Meyers and Barb Fernald for a program on problems facing small communities. Legal questions raised by some island residents were forwarded to the Island Institute for research by their legal staff. Invitations were issued to newly-elected State Senator Damon and State Representative Pingree to visit with Cranberry Isles officials, tour the SWH Property, and generally familiarize themselves with the project to assist in garnering state funds.
We continue to meet with various town officials from SWH & NEH to brief them on project developments, and resolve issues as they arise. The Singh Property has recently come up for sale, and an offer has been accepted. Since the Town of Cranberry Isles has the Right of First Refusal, the subcommittee has been researching possible alternatives to accomplish the removal of the permanent easements which exist to the garage/apartment property and the east side middle float, as well as retain permanent, clear ownership of the garage/apartment, which is attached to the reamining boathouse building owned outright by Cranberry Isles. These are considered as potential problems for Cranberry Isles, if not resolved. The Selectmen will call a Special Town Meeting to consider the First Refusal Option on April 4, 2003.
Personnel: This subcommittee coordinated the hiring of Scott McIntire as Caretaker for the SWH Intermodal Transportation Facility. He has a nine month contract through September, 2003 which will assist us through the first summer season. He will generally oversee routine maintenance & security for the property, and will plow & sand as necessary during the winter months. He will coordinate with the LMC and Selectmen concerning larger work projects which may require hiring larger contractors. He will also be the first point of contact for the tenants in the Hinckley Real Estate Building and for Hank Hinckley in the Boathouse Building.
Leases: The subcommittee has been working with the Selectmen to clarify legal questions concerning whether the Town of Cranberry Isles can lease portions of the property, buildings or waterfront to private interests, thereby raising revenue to offset the purchase price of the Manset Property. The Maine Bond Bank, which oversees the loan provided to the Town for the purchase of the property, has certain restrictions & prohibitions which may affect our ability to lease. The Hinckley Real Estate Building parcel is not covered by this loan, and consequently our ability to have leases with the occupants is not restricted. We are still waiting for clarification from the Maine Bond Bank on their guidelines. The subcommittee has also carefully reviewed all leases which were in effect at the time of the sale of the Manset Property to Cranberry Isles, to insure there were no hidden potential problems for the Town. The subcommittee has also met separately with the tenants of the Hinckley Real Estate / Insurance Building, and with Hank Hinckley in the Boathouse Building. Tentative plans for development & maintenance of the Manset Property were discussed, questions were answered, and rumors quelled. Solid working relationships are gradually developing with the tenants as issues & questions are resolved.
Parking: The subcommittee has been working with CES Engineer Jeff Crafts to develop bid specifications for preparing the Manset Property parking lot. These specifications have been provided to qualified bidders, with the Selectmen scheduled to open the bids April 1, 2003. (137) parking spaces are included in the bid package, as previously approved by the SWH Planning Board. Bid incentives include a 5% bonus if work is completed by May 1, 2003 or a daily penalty levied each day the project is not completed after May 15, 2003. The subcommittee has also worked continuously with Town of Mount Desert officials to negotiate a ten year lease of the Cranberry Island Parking Lot. Officials are in general agreement on the terms, but the deal must be approved by the voters at Mount Desert Town Meeting next year. The NEH Joy Road Lot has been leased by Cranberry Isles for another year (May 15 - October 15) for the reasonable sum of $1500. The subcommittee has spent many hours during several meetings to hammer out details for a revised parking space permit policy which strives to be simple, clear, and fair. Efforts have been made to standardize policies between the NEH & SWH parking lots and to maximize use of spaces. Generally speaking, priority will be given, based on a point system, to those who spend the most time on the Cranberry Islands. However, it is anticipated that, with the addition of (137) extra spaces in SWH, there will be plenty of reserved space for all applicants willing to pay. The Selectmen have given final approval to the revised policy, which will be reviewed annually to correct any deficiencies. Letters & Parking Permit Applications will be mailed out by early April, 2003 so prospective applicants can return responses by May 1, 2003. The cover letter and the permit applications, signed by the Selectmen, explain the parking policy and point system in detail. Although we expect some mistakes in this first year, and some potential 'rough edges' to smooth out with the policy, the Parking SubCommittee and the Selectmen will make every effort to insure parking is handled fairly and efficiently, and that all individual concerns and questions are addressed.
Transportation: This subcommittee has worked with interested parties to establish regularly scheduled ferry service between SWH and Cranberry Isles. Steve Pagels, operator of ferry service between Bar Harbor and Winter Harbor, plans to run an extensive schedule of trips between May 15 - October 15, 2003. He owns a considerable number of licensed passenger boats, and has also bought out Chuck Liebow's Cranberry Cove Ferry business and the 'Island Queen', which will be renovated and 'noisy' engine replaced. Tentative plans call for trips between the Manset docks and Cranberry Isles, and also between Clark Point Town Docks and Cranberry Isles. Plans also call for early morning and late evening service, to assist potential commuters, workmen, and those wishing to attend early evening events on Mount Desert Island. Schedules & brochures will be posted in early May. Discussions are also being held with other potentially interested parties concerning more specialized boat operations out of SWH which may have a positive impact on our Manset Dock operations. It should be emphasized that anyone can choose to operate ferry services out of SWH. The Transportation SubCommittee has only worked to facilitate such services, to insure Cranberry Isles has top quality service to SWH. Every effort is being made to balance passenger & freight loads between SWH & NEH during the peak traffic season, rather than hurt or directly compete with existing ferry services, which have served the Cranberry Isles in excellent fashion in all weather situations for many years. The subcommittee also met with representatives of the Island Explorer Bus service. They were very enthusiastic about our project, and expressed willingness to support as much as possible our land transport needs. They will be running nearly hourly bus service from the Manset Town Dock and the Clark Point Upper & Lower Town Docks between June 23 - October 13, 2003. This service is free to all users, and stops in the center of SWH enroute to Bar Harbor.
Financial: This subcommittee assisted the Selectmen with researching the Year 2003 Operating Budget, to determine projected expenses & income. It has also worked on insurance issues for the property, in conjunction with the Selectmen. The group has also recently assumed responsibility for security-related issues and expenditures.
Waterfront: The subcommittee researched which options were best to extend the existing seasonal Manset Dock another 50' into deeper water. Choices were either extending the wharf or adding a fourth float. A decision was made to add a float, which was less expensive, and permitted more operational flexibility if needs changed in the future. The subcommittee will oversee repairs to the wharf & floats, and spring installation.
Buildings: The subcommittee has conducted a maintenance survey of the buildings, and identified a priority list of repairs. These will be worked on in the next several months. Floor plans have also been obtained of each building, for future maintenance & remodelling planning. A restroom in the Boatyard Building has been completely remodelled and modernized for public use this summer.
Grounds: The subcommittee was recently split from the Building SubCommittee, to concentrate on issues of landscaping, lighting & signage. The group has worked with CES Engineer Jeff Crafts to insure contractor bid specifications take into consideration careful transplanting of trees in the parking lot, and general beautification of the property. This subcommittee is charged with maintaining and enhancing the beauty of the property, and insuring that appearances are not degrading to the neighborhood. Lighting & sign issues are all part of this consideration. We want the best appearing property possible, both from the waterfront and roadway views, but also from the neighbors' backyards.
IV Short Range SubCommittee Objectives:
a) Continue training the Campaign Committee.
b) Start plans for summer events.
c) Coordinate numerous additional grant applications w/ Friedmann & Associates.
a) Provide a briefing to the MDI League of Towns on the Cranberry Project.
b) Provide a briefing to SWH Chamber of Commerce on the Cranberry Project.
c) Provide briefings to other appropriate SWH town committees.
d) Continue coordination of press releases and newspaper articles.
e) Coordinate an Official Opening Ceremony of the SWH Property (May 15th)
f) Coordinate a visit by state government representatives to tour the SWH Property.
a) Research need to hire night watchmen security personnel.
a) Research legal issues involving the current leases.
b) Determine maintenance obligations w/ tenants per existing leases.
a) Administer the Selectmen-approved Parking Permit Policy.
b) Oversee SWH parking lot construction & development by contractors.
c) Continue negotiations for a long term parking lease w/ NEH and determine costs.
d) Insure all construction is completed by May 15, 2003.
a) Confirm proposed ferry schedules for SWH service.
b) Coordinate any potential special boat operations affecting the SWH Property.
c) Provide tour of SWH Property for Island Explorer officials.
d) Provide continuing updates to potential ferry operators and Island Explorer personnel on SWH Property developments.
a) Determine security needs for the property.
b) Receive clarification from the Maine Bond Bank regarding legality of private leases on the SWH Property.
a) Complete additional float extension (50') by May 15, 2003.
b) Insure floats are prepared & installed by May 15, 2003.
c) Determine status of Cranberry Isles moorings - location & use.
d) Establish rules & regulations for wharf / floats usage and publish same.
a) Replace the connecting shed roof of the Hinckley Boathouse.
b) Complete minor previously identified repairs.
c) Install Waiting Room furniture by May 15, 2003.
d) Resolve plumbing & sewer lines separation issues in the Hinckley Boathouse.
a) Safely transfer trees during parking lot construction.
b) Insure proper low-key lighting is installed.
c) Prepare a Cranberry Isles Parking Lot directional sign by May 15, 2003.
V General Comments:The months of April & May are the most critical in terms of completing our objectives and opening the SWH Intermodal Transportation Facility for operation. Our target date is May 15, 2003. There is much to accomplish in relatively little remaining time. LMC Members have been devoting increasing numbers of hours to meetings and taskings to meet the deadlines. Complicating our efforts is the normal increase in Spring work activity for many LMC Members - boatyard work, construction work, summer cottage openings. This is gradually stretching our resources very thin - but we continue moving forward.
The severe winter weather has continued to create challenges for the Land Management Commission and its subcommittees to schedule and keep meetings. However, we have persevered successfully, even in the worst of conditions. The weather has now begun easing off, making transport between the islands and mainland easier and more flexible.
The Selectmen have held few meetings during the First Quarter. This has occasionally slowed the progress of the LMC, when action on various items was required of the Selectmen. However, since Town Meeting, it is anticipated regular meeting schedules will return, facilitating movement on issues when required. Communication between the LMC leadership and Selectmen leadership is generally very good.
The Land Management Commission acts primarily as an advisory and research group for the Selectmen. The Commission was originally only intended to develop and manage the SWH & NEH parking & docking operations for an undefined interim term. It is hoped that, sometime in the next couple of years, Cranberry Isles can begin consideration of a professional position to administer the issues and challenges we are currently tasked to do. We are volunteers, and inexperienced ones at that, considering that much of what we are doing is new, pioneering work, never before attempted by Maine islands. Through trial & error, we have accomplished much in several months, but there is much more to accomplish, and many more mistakes to be made along the way. We ask you to bear with us, provide support & constructive advice whenever and wherever possible, and above all, stay informed about our activities. Ask questions, read our reports and news articles, and talk directly with the LMC Members. Remember, this is YOUR land in SWH, and YOUR parking in NEH, and whether you agree or disagree with the SWH concept and implementation, it still is your tax money and your right to know what is happening with your money.