2016-07-15 / Letters

Actions create adversarial relationship

To the editor:

The comprehensive and informative news report by staff writer Wm. Duke Harrington on results of the Municipal Resources Inc. survey reported at the Board of Selectmen’s recent workshop should be required reading for everyone in Kennebunk. (Town survey reveals ‘a bit of tension’, Kennebunk Post, July 1).

The survey of residents “revealed an underlying mass of tension, between wanting to promote economic development and a desire to retain a quaint New England village feel.”

There is indeed a perceived insensitivity in town hall management to the desires of what the residents want done, and don’t want done. There appears to be a distinct bias to promote commercial growth at any cost, even when it erodes and destroys long standing residential and coastal neighborhoods.

There is no better illustration of that tension than the recent episode in which the Kennebunk town management team attempted to secure approval at the May 24th board of selectmen meeting to submit a so-called interim relief petition to Superior Court that would have permitted additional parking by a commercial business in the coastal residential and shore land protected zone on Doanes Wharf Road in the Lower Village.

This action was initiated not only in face of well documented and unanimous opposition by the residents in the affected neighborhood, but at the very moment when the court was preparing to respond to the appeals case of the decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals which denied such expansion of a parking lot.

Additionally, the town officials proposed the development of a contract zone in collaboration with a private business to permit expanded parking in this coastal residential and shoreland protected zones and to submit it to the voters in the November election.

The effect of all of this activity has been to create an adversarial relationship between the town management and the taxpaying residents.

This Doanes Wharf interim relief episode makes a mockery of the 34-point questionnaire and of all the town sessions on economic development this year—the SWOT Analysis, the Visioning exercises.

The clear voice and preferences of residents were utterly ignored by town management. Fortunately, a majority of the selectmen heard the voice of the people and voted against the interim relief proposal.

Selectman Ed Karytko expressed concern that 84 percent of the respondents to the questionnaire were age 50 and older, and stated that the needs and interests of young people were neglected. If there is to be a follow-up to this $3,000-plus questionnaire, I recommend that the students of Alan Carp’s Advanced Placement statistic classes at Kennebunk High School be invited to participate in the preparation and implementation of the next questionnaire for residents.

These students and Mr. Carp have demonstrated remarkable initiative and competence to correct the mistakes in the ranking of KHS recently published in a U.S. News & World Report. Their careful analysis led to the conclusion that the published high school report was “subject to bureaucratic bungling” (Students correct national statistics, Kennebunk Post, July 1).

Enlisting the insights and talents of these young students may enlighten the town management team and reduce a bit of the tension documented by the recent survey. Their ability to deal with complex statistics combined with a dose of civic pride can join with the voices of their seniors “to promote economic development and a desire retain a quaint New England village feel.”

A youth with something of the senior in him, combined with the senior who still has something of the insights of youth is a winning combination to develop strategic goals for our town.

Would the newly constituted board of selectmen take the initiative to invite students of the KHS Advanced Placement statistic classes to a board meeting to review these possibilities?

Robert F. Lyons
Lower Village Kennebunk

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