Well it took us a few days to read through them all, but finally we know what the public really thinks about the latest proposal for development at Lily Bay. I think that Julie Sawtelle’s comments are a good summary of the public’s response.
“Just tell Plum Creek: ‘No thanks, Lily Bay is just fine the way it is….'” -Julie Sawtelle, Litchfield
In the end, after a four week comment period that ended last Friday, the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) received 1,768 individual letters and emails. 1,762 were opposed the Plum Creek proposal, 1,517 of those comments specifically mentioned Lily Bay. On the other end of the spectrum, LURC received six letters in support of the development proposal. Two of those said they’d support development on Lily Bay.
Here’s a picture of the stacks of comments.
Overall 99.6% of the comments LURC received raised objections to Plum Creek’s proposal. 85.8% opposed development at Lily Bay. Eighty percent of all comments were from Maine residents.
The comments came from more than 300 Maine towns in all sixteen counties, from Allagash to Kittery, Rangeley to Eastport. They came from the communities and outposts surrounding Moosehead Lake (Greenville, Greenville Junction, Rockwood, Beaver Cove, Tomhegan Township, Sapling Township, Frenchtown Township, and Jackman). And they came from families that have enjoyed the quiet remoteness of Lily Bay State Park for generations…
A team of three of us read through all of the comments. Here are our reactions to what we read.
Diano (North Woods Policy Advocate and Outreach Coordinator)
I was amazed at the number of very personal comments; especially about Lily Bay. There seemed to be endless stories from families that return to Lily Bay State Park year after year. To th ink that so many people took the time to write was nothing short of inspiring. These were not just simple emails, but detailed personal letters that talked about family connections and the importance of places like Moosehead and Lily Bay to Mainers. It was folks’ deep connection to the Moosehead region that really stood out for me.
Molly (Bowdoin College Student, NRCM Intern)
While I was reading through more than 1,700 letters, it seemed to me like each one was more meditative and heartfelt than the last. I was particularly struck by the variety of the letters- different generations, states, and reasons- but almost everyone wants to save Lily Bay. It was uplifting to see the multitude of comments from fellow college students who care about the future of our state. This process has been a truly amazing experience for me, and I’d say that if these public comments don’t alter the Plum Creek plans, then nothing will.
Michelle (Colby College Student, NRCM Intern)
Though the future of Lily Bay is now in the hands of the LURC commissioners, it is clear that Lily Bay truly belongs and will remain in the hearts of all those who love this area of Moosehead Lake. After reading the 1,762 individual letters and emails sent to LURC, it was so satisfying to discover that the people who do care about this area are willing to take a stand for what they believe is right and just. I applaud everyone who took the time to write about their connection to Lily Bay, and I only hope that the commissioners take the public’s opinion into account as they review Plum Creek’s newest development proposal.
Here is just a sample of what people said in their comments:
“There is no need nor local desire to have this relatively unscathed section of the Moosehead Lake region developed, especially on the large scale proposed by Plum Creek.”
-LeRoy & Joanna Ellis, Greenville
“I, and all of my children and nieces and nephews, were all baptized at the log chapel in Rockwood. I was married in the chapel and my father’s memorial service was held there. I can’t imagine Moosehead Lake becoming just another Lake Winnipesaukee with tens of thousands of boats polluting the pristine waters of the lake. If you allow this development, you can never take back the mistakes you will be making. It is forever(something missing here?) and another piece of America will be lost forever.” -Laurence Lougee, Rockwood
“One cannot say too often that once the Moosehead peace, quiet, and natural beauty is compromised by development for the few wealthy seasonal beneficiaries, it is compromised forever. It is not worth it.” -Dr. William Slavick, Portland
“I personally have many fond memories of family camping trips at Lily Bay, fishing for native brook trout in the rivers near Lily Bay, and sighting many different wildlife species that call this area home. I sincerely hope that I can share these same experiences with my children someday, but this will be impossible if the area is developed to the extent in the Plum Creek proposal.” – Emily Bastian, New Gloucester
“I am certainly a believer in tourism to our state, but if we fundamentally erode the places that define who we are – to ourselves and to others – then we are killing the golden goose.” -Matt Ware, Norway, ME
“We understand that some development is good, but this is by far too sweeping. Plum Creek would condemn this area to a future of cookie-cutter resorts–our beautiful Maine will become just like everywhere else.” -Josh Povec, Belfast
“Such places are getting increasingly rare in our country and thus, on a per-acre basis, add much more to the wealth and appeal of our state to residents and Moosehead Lake visitors alike than any development ever could.” -Eberhard Thiele, Fort Kent
“My family takes yearly trips to Lily Bay to get away from the crowded development of Maine’s coastal corridor. My children look forward to the serenity of our state park’s wonderful campground where we can see the stars and hear the loons every night. The massive development proposed by Plum Creek would put an end to our vacations there along with those of many Mainers who can still have a low-cost time with their families enjoying the outdoors in Maine.” -Christine Szalay, Damariscotta