On April 27, 2007, (Friday morning), the Sears Island Planning Initiative committee holds its final meeting at Searsport Town Hall. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The future of Maine's biggest natural undeveloped non-park island may well hinge on what gets decided then and there, as a brand new committee, sworn to abide by the findings of its now-nearly-defunct predecessor, rises phoenix-like from the ashes of what is feared could be disharmony over two alternatives.
Two key purposes to the meeting, according to a recent email from the quartet that has been running the year long committee: Jonathan Reitman, the hired facilitator, Karin Tilberg, Office of the Governor, Dianne Smith, Town of Searsport, Sue Inches, State Planning Office.
(1) the group of stakeholders that has taken part in this year of meetings will take a last stab at "harmonizing" the still divergent points of view that split them. Two "draft consensus agreements" have been emailed to committee members. Will one, the other or a mixture emerge? Or none?
Daunting: the committee includes cargo port builder wannabes, upper bay town governments, earth first!, land trusts, several grassroots activist groups, shipping and piloting companies, and more.
But don't worry if you can't create a useable synthesis on your own; a subcommittee has been working up such a document and will present it at the Friday meeting. Reitman says that it "harmonizes and reconciles all previous drafts". Really? Hope springs eternal...
(2) A 'Joint Use Planning Committee', with "balanced representation of port development and conservation perspectives" is being set up to further these harmonized, reconciled goals --whatever they be. Nominees are being sought. Reitman says: "If any of you have potential nominees for that group who would represent a particular perspective and who are willing to serve, please send those names to Jonathan as soon as possible (email@example.com)."
However, the notices makes it clear that to be on the committee, one must support the planned consensus, which may be summarized, perhaps overkindly, as:
"A Sears Island port if necessary, but not necessarily a Sears Island port."
Risky, what? Who decides if a port is necessary on this wild island off Searsport, or simply desirable to some group of interests?