To the editor,
This Big Island Dock issue is an example of what can go wrong in government when proper governing protocol is abandoned. The Orono mayor and city council took a non-issue of dock maintenance and blew it into a major issue with their lack of proper process adherence. It now embarrasses Orono with the way in which Veterans are being treated by us. We can’t stand for this.
•Mayor Walsh did not seek citizen input on this major issue per advice from the former city administrator who recently resigned, due to the new council’s lack of respect for city protocol.
•By voting to remove the docks, the city council violated the Big Island Park maintenance agreement, which legally requires safe public access to the park.
•Our mayor is now collecting private donations. If the city wants to do this type of fundraising, then identify a real need and establish proper oversight to ensure this organization is aligned with city governance and policy-making procedures. Private donors should not be steering our city’s direction. What future favors will these donors want?
•Mayor Walsh wants to form a committee to explore Big Island. We don’t really need a committee to decide whether a commercial dock is suitable for Big Island – that was decided years ago and is working fine.
Bottom line: A commercial dock is needed for safe public access to our park – including access for our Vets, seniors, children and anyone else who wants to get to the park without swimming. Plus, emergency access via boat is needed because having only helicopter access just isn’t feasible. The $8000 fee is paltry to maintain this dock to access a park that has already been funded by donations and receives volunteer help from private organizations.
Big Island Park was established legally for the public. Veterans should not have to come back before the city council next year to protect their ability to access the park.
We should be thanking our veterans with our actions, not hollow words.