Meddybemps

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Town News

Linda Baniszeski

We had the first fire in our woodstove on the 24th to take off the morning chill.  Wisps of curling smoke from chimneys around the community indicate others are surrendering to the new season.  Many boats and some docks have been removed from properties around the lake.  Some maples have already taken on the rich red hues of the season.  Fall is upon us. 

 End of September birthdays are celebrated by Bill Doten, Sr., on the 30th.  Early October birthdays include Maxine Arbo - October 1st, Lance Bagley - 2, Lorraine Gilchrist and Meg Rothberg - 3, Liz Trouant and Susan Pearson - 5.  Birthday blessings to each of these individuals on their special days. 

 In Town news, the Meddybemps Special Town Meeting was well attended on September 19 at the Community Center.  Twenty-five voting members of the community were in attendance along with a few seasonal residents.  The meeting opened with the Warrant being read as follows:  “Article I: to elect a moderator.  (Lisa Lord was elected.)  Article 02: To see if the citizens of the Town of Meddybemps want the Selectmen to try to acquire the ownership of the Super Fund Site at the corner of Stone Road and Maine Street (rte. 191)”  Submitted by Pete Trouant, Carl Gordon and Melvin (Ike) Winchester - Selectpersons, Town of Meddybemps.”  Following the above, comments were made by attending EPA and ME DEP representatives providing information and answers to citizens’ questions by Terrence Connelly, EPA Boston Office; Rebecca Hewitt, ME DEP Project Manager of the site since 1996, and Chris Swain, ME DEP.

 There was a general oversight discussion by the above representatives, and a review of restrictions on the site due to continued contamination by existing wells.  Rebecca Hewitt explained that ME DEP and EPA will continually have property oversight due to environmental restrictions and to protect wells and equipment; and ensuring there are no extractions of ground water, and no discharges of liquids emitted from groundwater.  

 Selectman Carl Gordon asked if there is inherited [environmental cleanup] liability upon ownership of the site.  Hewitt advised there is no liability to new owners, other than if they create environmental hazards or harm.  She said, “common sense limited use will include no obligations for the previous conditions and work done by EPA and MEDEP.”  She also explained that the existing kiosks, patio and paths created by the Passamaquoddy Tribe on the site will remain in tact with enduring rights for visitation and cultural use as already established; and that the native artifacts are owned by the Abbe Museum.  Although other land trust organizations were invited to discuss ownership, none are interested.  The Downeast Coastal Land Trust responded that they will assist if required with managing the site, but have not requested ownership.  Many entities were invited to join the discussion toward future ownership, but few want to be involved, and that it’s unusual for anyone to want to own a superfund clean-up site.  She added ME DEP does not have the money to retain and maintain the site.  It’s involvement will end other than annual testing and review of the site.

 Another resident asked why the site could not go back to the original owner.  Ms. Hewitt said it was not possible since the original owner signed an agreement with ME DEP prior to the clean-up.  She stated the clean-up cost was now over $10 million.  

Terry Connelly provided an overall review of the site and steps to deed ownership to another party.  He advised that one entity will own title but with deeded restrictions and caveats previously agreed upon with stipulated rights of access and use for Passamaquaddy Tribal ceremonial, educational and cultural events.  EPA conducts minimum 5-year reviews, and both ME DEP and EPA will continue environmental oversight, with annual review by ME DEP.   Artifact restructions are never lifted, and no further digging or removal of items in the ground can be done. 

 When asked how long the site will be under Federal and Maine oversight authority, Mr. Connelly stated based on past experience, it would continue for the next 70 up to 75 years.  Mr. Connelly said he needed to have a letter from the Town by Monday, September 26 indicating its position for potential ownership from the town and interested residents.  This deadline would allow Mr.Connelly to include the Town’s letter with his 5-year oversight review to EPA - Washington, DC.   He also advised that interested citizens’ letters about desired future ownership are also welcomed and encouraged.  Townspeople received postcards about this issue from EPA requesting the same on Weds., Sept. 21.  Townspeople expressed the desire for the Passamaquoddy’s continued access and use as previously established. 

 Based on the above, a motion was made and seconded “To see if the citizens of the Town of Meddybemps want the Selectmen to try to acquire the ownership of the Super Fund Site at the corner of Stone Road and Maine Street (rte. 191).  The motion carried when Meddybemps citizens voted 21 - yes, 4 - no.  A formal letter to Terry Connelly, EPA Region 1, Boston Office was issued by Meddybemps Selectmen and was e-mailed and posted by mail on Wednesday, September 21, in time to meet the deadline for inclusion with the 5-Yr. EPA report.

 The townspeople who talked with me after the meeting expressed their appreciation that Selectmen responded to the desires of the community, and made their wishes known to EPA and ME DEP.  Another remarked and that since the Town already has a Property Management and Maintenance Plan, budgeted and in place for other town owned sites, it could maintain this property through the existing program.   Small town government is still alive and well in Meddybemps. 

Mark your calendars for Saturday October 1, when Kevin Spenser is in concert at 6: 30 p.m. at 2nd Baptist Church, Calais.   All are welcome.  The Church’s annual Harvest Party for children is again scheduled for Friday, September 28.  Children do not have to regularly attend to come to the party.  More information will follow later. 

 

 Please send your news to LBaniszeski@myfairpoint.net or phone 454-3719.