Swan's Island Vacations

Rentals on a Maine Island

Swan's Island Town Meeting 1989


Swan's Island Voters were asked at a special town meeting September 15 if they wish to purchase the 113 acre Tripler property in Atlantic and to allow Mariculture, Ltd. to lease a portion of the Minturn Quarry Wharf. Mariculture is now raising Atlantic salmon in six pens in Toothacher Cove.


This was the second time the island voters have considered the purchase of the Tripler land. Earlier they rejected the land because they considered the asking price of $200,000.00 too great for an indeterminate amount of gravel. The parcel was offered again to the town for $165,000.00.


The selectmen read a letter from a soil scientist who claimed that there was a potential of 40,000 cubic yards of gravel on the site, mostly located under the present road. First Selectmen, Sonny Sprague, proposed that a new 800 foot road be routed around the present Tripler house. This would cost about $9,500.00. A new route would also have to be found for access to John Carroll's property east of the present Lawrence Smith gravel pit.


Atlantic property owners, who must travel by the Smith pit, were unimpressed with the idea of another "eyesore" on the other side of the road. The Smith pit was supposed to have been graded and landscaped years ago, but the selectmen have not forced the issue, although the Planning Board and other citizens of Swan's Island have urged that this be done.


Mr. Sprague said that he calculated the cost of bringing gravel onto the island at around $556,000.00, but voters pointed out that transport by ferry was not the sole route. They suggested he investigated other means, to bring out a large amount of gravel the way other islands, such as that used by the Cranberry Islands.


The Tripler parcel has approximately 80 acres of wetlands that some in the audience pointed out were valuable watersheds. Swan's Island does not have aquifers, but rather water is stored in wetlands and then flows into cracks in the bedrock which are then tapped into for wells. The Water Committee, (WC), has shown that this area is the largest wetland on the island. The WC also has shown that the new development at East Point may have problems in the future because there are few cracks that run in that direction. It was pointed out that any alteration of wetlands may have serious consequences. It was noted that no environmental impact studies have been made.


Selectmen said that they had some of the land on the old Red Point road soil tested and that four house sites were found and that these lots could be offered to islanders.


There was discussion from the floor about the asking price. A motion was made to postpone the article until an appraisal could be made. A real estate agent who is handling the property stated that there have been developers interested in the parcel in the past and asked if the town would be willing to see the land be put to that kind of use. Further discussion centered around buying it simply to keep as open space and to protect the watershed. A motion was made and seconded to table the article until another appraisal could be made. This was defeated by a vote of 73 to 36.


Then the motion was made and seconded to vote to purchase the Tripler property and to offer $150,000, and it was carried by a vote of 63 to 50. Later the Triplers accepted the town's offer to purchase their Atlantic property for $150,000.


Selectmen and manager of the Swan's Island Fisherman's Cooperative, Bruce Colbeth, presented a plan for Mariculture that would expand the town wharf on which Mariculture would build an office. Mr. Colbeth stated that in the future Mariculture would like to build a field processing facility on town holdings at the Minturn wharf.


He reviewed Mariculture's original plans which included a research and development building near the Quarry Pond that would utilize the pond itself. The fire department did a recharge test and it was found that the flow rate was far below what would be required for Mariculture's purposes, and so that aspect was dropped from the plan.


The proposed lease arrangement would have Mariculture pay $1,000.00 a month for ten years; the next ten years would be rent-free and after twenty years the lease would be re-negotiated.


A question from the floor asking the selectmen why had other commercial ventures by islanders been refused use of the town wharf in the past went unanswered.


A motion was made, seconded and passed to hear Gary Arnold of Mariculture speak. A fisherman who had lost gear in the area of the pen-shifting operation when Mariculture's pens were hauled from the waters near Gooseberry Island to Toothacher Cove, was told by Mr. Arnold that the 6 or 7 fishermen who lost gear would be compensated. Another islander asked if Mariculture had paid for the mooring stones that they got from the quarry at Minturn which is town property; Mr. Arnold said that they had not paid for the stones. Other voters stated their concerns about the environment and the seeming favoritism shown Mariculture by the selectmen. Mr. Arnold noted his surprise at the tone of the meeting by saying he originally thought that the support of the Swan's Island Fisherman's Cooperative was synonymous with island-wide support. When the article was voted, there were 46 in favor and 45 against. The meeting adjourned around 11:30 PM. September 1989



Swan's Island Town Meeting 1990


An historic moment occurred when Terry Staples was elected Swan's Island Town Meeting Moderator and took up the gavel that his father, Norman Staples had held for 30 years. His strong voice will be an asset to the town in the years to come!


Sonny Sprague defeated Steve Wheaton and was re-elected selectman. Selectman Bruce Colbeth then surprised the meeting when he announced his resignation. He said that he was tired of being accused of conflict of interest with regard to his role as selectman and as manager of the Fisherman's Cooperative. In the past year, the Coop has been involved with the promotion of Mariculture Products, Ltd. Colbeth denied that he had any conflict in his own mind, but decided to step down as selectman. In a contested election, Roger May was elected to serve the remaining two years of Colbeth's term.


Candi Joyce was elected to the School Board and Lorraine Stockbridge was reelected to the board. Wendy Joyce, who had served for 9 years on the board, was given a round of applause for her service to the community.


The selectmen reported that the fall police service had been a success. The town had voted last March for the extra patrol, to control hunters who were illegally hunting deer and who were hunting birds unsafely. The officer did make an arrest for illegal deer hunting and the case was brought to court. George Stanley III resigned as constable last year and no one has stepped forward to take his place. The selectmen reminded the town that they should call the Fire Department in an emergency, or call the Sheriffs Department in Ellsworth.


Milton "Bud" Staples was reelected Road Commissioner and presented a plaque for 30 years of service to the town. Mr. Staples reported that the roads were in pretty good shape but that the dirt road to the new school will have to be ditched and trees trimmed from the edges to try to take care of some excess water on the road. The Goose Pond road will also need some attention as there will be a year-round resident living there, as well as a summer resident. Selectman Sprague noted that another tar Job might be done after the new ferry has come into service: the wider decks will allow asphalt trucks to come ashore on the island.


$9,000 was raised for the Affordable Housing Committee so that a grant application can be written this year and fund the surveying of the town land in Atlantic.


Cuts in state funding coupled with budget increases and the increased expenses for the school prompted the voters to decline to raise monies for the Odd Fellow's Hall or the Fourth of July fireworks. Some salaries were held at last year's levels for the same reason.


The town wharf at Minturn will have extensive repair this year. A new ramp will be installed there also. There will be improvements to the town float in Atlantic as well.


On recommendation of the Water Committee (WC), the selectmen announced that they would be appointing a Solid Waste Committee. The WC tested springs flowing from the dump area through Island Retreat and found good cause for concern. The new Solid Waste Committee will have a difficult but vital job to look forward to.


After voting on many of the usual articles, lunching with the Rebekah's at noon. and voting again in the afternoon, the meeting adjourned. Some of us went home to digest baked beans and others to chew over and over the meaning of taxation with representation. March, 1990



Swans Island Town Meeting 1991


The first Monday in March this year dawned with an ice storm which took out power lines on the mainland and deprived the island of power around 8:00 AM. Many islanders have gas stoves and managed to prepare casseroles for the Rebekahs lunch. The old cook stoves were stoked in the Odd Fellow's kitchen as well as the double barrel stove upstairs in the meeting room. Citizens arrived before 10 o'clock, some with wet hair and uncoffeed looks in their eyes: "The meeting might prove to be extra interesting this year!" someone said as she made her way up the wooden flights of stairs.


The dim room was soon filled with voters who quickly dealt with the opening prayer and elected Terry Staples as moderator. Lenora Wheaton was elected town clerk and was given a raise so that her annual salary was on par with those of the town treasurer and the collector of taxes who had been receiving $2,500.


Dexter Lee, who had served as selectman for eighteen years announced that he would not run for office, citing that he needed a change as well as the town. "It Is time for fresh blood," he said. First selectman Sonny Sprague, said Lee was, "the smartest man on Swan's Island as far as knowing land boundaries and the history of Swan's Island." There were four nominations for his replacement and after two ballots for the four candidates, two dropped their names from contention and Steve Wheaton was elected over Norman Staples by a vote of 52 to 28. Visibly moved by the reality of the change in power, Lee stepped aside and lowered his head for a few moments. He was quickly back in top form when he took a place in the back of the room and, with his strong voice, expedited the town meeting by offering motions and seconds.


The vote for treasurer proved difficult: after a series of six ballots, Benice Sprague was elected again after almost an hour of voting. There were two young candidates who may have better luck next year.


The electricity came on at noon time and the meeting adjourned for lunch which was served downstairs. It wasn't until the coffee finally perked that there was an audible sigh of relief that all was going to be well after all. After lunch two members of the school board were elected. After board chairman Kenny LeMoine, Jr. was nominated for another term, his wife announced that he was not running, but LeMoine did not remove his name from the balloting and was reelected from a field of four. Nancy Colbeth did not run again and her place was filled by the next vote with Mike Camber. The new school's budget, not decided at town meeting, has risen to accommodate the changing needs of the curriculum and the nuts and bolts costs of operating a larger facility. School board members may increasingly face hard questions from members of the public and that is a hard job in this small community. The school board has many challenges to face in the future, but the town wants the best for its scholars and they will work for that goal.


The issue of law enforcement on Swan's Island is always debated. Many islanders feel that it is a waste of money to police a basically law abiding citizenry. Selectmen have felt that the presence of law enforcement in the summer is essential as a deterrent. Two years ago, it was voted to have an officer patrol during "hunting season" and this has proved to be a successful program. The summer police have been too zealous in nabbing those of us who slip past stop signs or have a tail light out. There usually isn't much more for a summer officer to do anyway, so things can get boring. The selectmen have asked the Hancock County Sheriffs Department to include them in on the Interviewing process in an effort to make a good choice for the Island, and to find someone who wouldn't, "hide behind stop signs." After more discussion, monies were raised for the program.


Town roads will be worked on this year. Hottop will be applied to several small roads on the Island and the road to the new school-will be improved as well. Some 4.4 miles of road are slated to be worked on. Selectmen noted that in the area of snow removal, the town will be required to build a better salt shed in the near future, but the $21,000 raised did not include this work.


In the health service article, the issue that the state wants to raise what individuals pay for emergency ferry runs was discussed. As things are now, the fee is just $44 and the state has absorbed almost $500, with the town paying 45%. Selectman Sprague said that they would meet with the DOT on July 12 to work out a solution.


Fire Chief Steve Harriman outlined his department' achievements over the last year and spoke about the needs of the department. The all volunteer fire department has been actively improving services and only the day before town meeting dealt with a burning lobster boat at the Quarry Wharf in Minturn. " a fire the day before town meeting is great! We always get new volunteers after a fire." Harriman said. $20,000 was raised for public safety.


Bruce Colbeth, chairman of the Affordable Housing Project, temporarily known as Duck Brook East and Duck Brook West in Atlantic on town lands, reviewed the progress of the project.


Two grants have been awarded to the town to develop the eight lots and to offer three island land owners $10,000 each to develop their lots. With one of the grants, the committee hopes to incorporate improvements to the town wharf at Minturn and the development of a fish processing facility. Colbeth said that the Community Development Block Grant people liked the fact the Island had a new school and was working to keep its year round population. (At the meeting of the Planning Board on March 7, the preliminary plan for the subdivisions were approved.)


$1,000 was raised for the Clam Conservation Program this year, when a fisherman suggested that the town take an active role in the maintenance of the clam flats. The Clam Committee has been inactive for years, but many felt that something had to be done. Two clammers pressed for the idea of reseeding the flats. "Even if we can only afford a few bushels, let's do it," said Ricker Ranquist. The citizens agreed that the conservation program should become more active and voted to raise the money motioned for.


Monies were raised to erect a new fence at the Grindle Hill cemetery next to the Methodist Church. Monies that were raised last year for the repair of the wrought iron fence were not spent when it was realized that the fence was beyond repair. While on the graveyard issue, Steve Harriman inquired how one bought a grave lot. He said that he had tried one on and wanted to purchase it. Dexter Lee, who organizes the sale of graves for the town, told him that he knew just where Steve would be buried and that he should see him about it.


The monies raised for the summer recreation program was reduced because some of the programs were not used by older children last year. Provisions for small children and for life guards for the Quarry Pond will be maintained.


The Swan's Island Educational Society asked for an additional $3.500 to pay for repairs to the Seaside Hall in Atlantic. The trustees said that they had maintained the town-owned building since 1986 and because of lack of funds, needed to ask the town with the repairs. The trustees also noted that the Geddes school house in Atlantic that had been willed to the library had not yet been turned over to them and that they hoped that they would be able to move the library there in the future.


Other articles on the warrant included those to raise money for the Water Committee to continue to monitor streams in the area of the dump for water quality and to continue other water-related studies. The issue of solid waste was more seriously addressed this year, but only $8,000 were raised to continue the island's open dump.


Selectmen have been told by the DEP that the island will have, 'To do something different." Sprague outlined some of the things that the island will have to do in the near future such as separate oil, tires and diapers. Sprague also said that the town may place containers at the dump for this purpose. There was a general announcement that Scott Wilkerson from the University of Maine would be on island on March 12 to talk about recycling to the school. He would also give a program in the evening for everyone else who is interested in what they could do to reduce and recycle. No monies were raised for fireworks this year, but the town authorized the selectmen to seek private funding for the Fourth of July conflagration. One town faction felt that it is too frivolous to spend money on a few minutes of fireworks while another feels that it shows patriotism. Both factions enjoy a good show.


The mundane issues remaining on the warrant were dispatched and we were all home just before dark. There will be other special town meetings before the year is out, but the first Monday in March is the only one that serves a dozen kinds of baked beans! March, 1991