I am writing to inform you as your Town Councilor, that after much thought and deliberation I will be moving to withdraw the public hearing for funding for a proposed pier at Wood Island.
Unfortunately, there aren’t the votes of the Council to put this to a vote of the people. The negative phone calls, emails, and texts seem to have nothing to do with the proposal and adds no value to public debate.
I apologize that we as a community were unable to have a civil conversation about public funding for this incredible project. At this time the withdrawing of the public hearing is best for our community.
I remain so impressed with the outstanding job that WILSSA has done and will do. I have every confidence that WILSSA will complete this outstanding project, the Jewel of the Harbor.
A letter From Wood Island Association
Why WILSSA Exists: And Thank You Ken
The reason that this charity was founded was to help Kittery.
There was a serious problem at Wood Island. The old life saving station needed to be demolished as it was in dangerous disrepair. WILSSA formed to help the Town not have to demolish this lovely and historic place. And that is what we have done.
Now it is time to take the last steps to finish the interior spaces and build a pier. That will allow the public to enjoy Wood Island.
The agreement between the Town and WILSSA said there would be no public funding for any portion of the project. It also said that if the parties agreed, amendments to the agreement were acceptable.
So, when Town Council member Lemont proposed public funding for the pier, the question became; should there be an amendment to the agreement? The best way to learn that would be a vote of all of the people of Kittery.
There has been a vocal group of folks who don’t want to have public funding for a pier. That is fine. That is exactly why having a vote makes sense. There are also many people who are eager to have that vote to support the idea of some public funding. That is what democracy is all about.
But, sadly, many of the things that have been written on Facebook, in emails to Council, etc are just untrue. What is more, even when given the correct information some people have continued to repeat the falsehoods.
To take a few examples, some are saying that the island is closed to the public – and even that the new sea walls now prevent people from landing their kayaks! In fact, the island is a public park and will always be open to the public. The new sea walls replaced the 1908 sea walls, same exact location, just 30 inches taller. Kayakers are welcomed.
But the most frequent falsehood has been that Ken Lemont has betrayed the agreement, or acted in an underhanded way. This is quite literally the opposite to the facts. Hosting a public hearing to discuss an amendment to the agreement is no betrayal. If the Council had agreed to put the funding on the ballot in June, everyone would have been able to vote before any funds were spent.
Ken’s letter describes that the misinformation was so bad and so plentiful that is was clear Council was not going to move ahead on Monday night with a ballot item. He decided that it was best to cancel the hearing rather than make matters worse. It is a sad situation when we can’t get together and discuss ideas without personal attacks and misinformation.
WILSSA was founded to help Kittery. We have done so in remarkable fashion. For this funding idea to cause problems in our Town is the last thing that WILSSA wants. We are about bringing people together, not creating division.
We thank Ken Lemont for proposing public funding for the pier.