Supporting Camden Select Board’s decision to reject two petitions
I’m writing in support of the Camden Select Board’s decision to reject two petitions from town voters about Megunticook River restoration. One petition would require the preservation of the Montgomery Dam, which is at the head of Camden’s harbor. The other petition would authorize the Town to proceed with plans that could remove the Montgomery Dam, if necessary.
For the last two or more years, Camden has been examining the issue of river restoration and climate resilience. We are a coastal town with a river. Our infrastructure needs to be examined and possibly upgraded to protect us from extreme weather events, rising sea levels and warming temperatures. This means that hard choices need to be made.
If both petitions were on the town warrant for our June 14 annual meeting, they would likely confuse most voters. People could vote for one, or quite possibly for both. The town would have no clear indication of actual voter intent. And voters would be making decision in the dark, without any real idea of what the best choice would involve.
I don’t think I could be paid enough to serve as an elected local government official these days. Unlike politicians in Augusta or Washington, local government makes decisions right in front of us. They have to decide on how we will live in our town, and what kind of town we want to be. It would be easy to give in to the loudest voices, but really, town government has to decide what is in the best interest of everyone, for today and the future.
It seems to me that the hardest decisions of all are those that require change, especially in the way things look. People become quite attached to familiar landmarks and features in their environment, and understandably are often upset when changes are made without their involvement or approval.
That’s why I like the Select Board’s stated interest in undertaking a process that will create a vision of the Megunticook River and the head of harbor. This process should give interested Camden residents the opportunity to say what we want and don’t want, what it will look like, how much it will cost, etc.
I don’t know if the Montgomery Dam should go or stay. I don’t know what the trade-offs would be. I just know that demonizing the people who have given their time to help run our town is not helpful in answering these questions. Let’s work together and stop fighting each other.
Susan Reider lives in Camden