Dear Madame Mayor,
I’d like to share my thoughts on a few related topics, both with you and with the citizens of the Midcoast. As you are no doubt aware, our recent local election affects our entire area, not just the City of Belfast. How to envision future economic development, approach our current financial dilemma, and plan for climate change are just three of many issues on people’s minds.
To me, the City Council election results showed how many hundreds of Belfast residents are seriously concerned about the City Council’s choices and actions. Joanne Moesswilde narrowly lost to a well-liked councilmember who has strong ties to the local Democratic party. Ellie Daniels and Jim Merkel got more write-in votes than any previous write-in candidate.
How WILL we address escalating taxes? The Nordic Aqua Farms salmon facility won’t be up and running for some years. What if it doesn’t get permitted? What about the still pending lawsuit?
We need our leadership to think more broadly and creatively. For instance, one of the ideas mentioned during the campaign that particularly appeals to me is that of issuing municipal bonds. Citizens would have an opportunity to invest in the community and support small and medium sized businesses- ones that fit more naturally into our small town. Local funds would stay at home.
The other issue I’d like to address is the pressing one of climate change. I’m glad to see that you feel the need to prioritize it.
What really worries me, however, is that the connection between climate change and the proposed salmon facility is not being made. I don’t see how one can be concerned about climate change but yet agree to the clear cutting of acres of woods which presently absorb CO2. How one can agree to adding pollution to the bay. How one can abandon the hope of restoring our local natural fish runs, as is being done in Damariscotta for example. How we can give away our precious water rights, so that in the event of a drought, a foreign corporation would have first rights (before local citizens) to our water.
You may say that there are tradeoffs that need to be made — that we need the tax revenue and the jobs.
Frankly, the climate situation is so dire that it won’t accept tradeoffs. We have to make sure our decisions are climate friendly. The climate won’t be at the bargaining table.
Mayor Paradis, I believe that your intentions are the best. Thank you for that. What I hope is that you will seriously consider the many alternatives that have been offered in this campaign; innovative and creative ideas to grow the local economy in a way that can benefit our citizens as well as honor and respect our beautiful environment. An ongoing conversation with all concerned citizens would be a welcome first step in the effort to imagine and implement a community based vision for our future.
Deborah Capwell lives in Belfast