News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, April 10, 2014
Peninsula officials collaborate, create forum to address roads

by Faith DeAmbrose

Even though local roads may have evened out ever so slightly in the past week, the resolve by area officials to take action hasn’t waned one bit.

A movement to create a “legislative-style” panel discussion is in the works with a target date of May 10, according to Blue Hill Selectman Jim Schatz. The goal, he said, is to get the right people together who can have some effect on the roads into the future. So far, most of the area selectmen have agreed to participate, said Schatz.

The state of Route 15, specifically, from Bucksport to Stonington has drawn sharp criticism from both local officials and those who drive on it. “It is scary. I have never seen the roads so bad,” said Stonington town manager and lifelong island resident Kathleen Billings-Pezaris. “I know this has been a hard winter, but the roads are literally going to pieces.”

For Billings-Pezaris and the five member board of selectmen in Stonington, the issue is the “adverse impact” the roads are having on local business and residents. “It is also an issue of public safety…not to mention the impact the roads are having on the town’s heavy equipment.”

The May 10 meeting will bring relevant stakeholders together, said Schatz, and provide for a number of things, including the creation of a resolution expressing dissatisfaction, the creation of language to ensure legislative action in the next session and a municipal lobbying effort that will extend far beyond the actual May meeting. A representative from Maine Municipal Association will also round out the panel and provide technical support to the towns as they navigate the process.

Area residents and business owners will be allowed to give testimony that will be compiled and recorded to help further the effort.

The meeting will take place at the Reach Auditorium in Deer Isle. It will be moderated by Jill Goldthwait. Additional details will be available as the date draws closer.

Those interested in participating or have questions can contact Schatz at the Blue Hill town office or Billings-Pezaris at the Stonington town office.