2006 January 27
by Eileen Curry
Many residents on both sides of a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) funding package for the Town of Perry were present during a regular selectmen's meeting on January 23. After the regular business part of the meeting, which included the signing of the last town warrant for 2005, the public participation forum was opened to a question from Perry Improvement Association Chairman David Turner. Turner had been to two previous meetings to ask town selectmen for their endorsement of a funding package that was presented by Quoddy Bay LLC to the group last month. The request was put on hold while selectmen sought advice from town counsel.
Selectwoman Jeanne Guisinger spoke to the group at the meeting, saying, "We spoke to two lawyers. One had a conflict of interest, since he is the counsel for Quoddy Bay LLC. Our town counsel did advise us that we could not legally sign a contract. We have no legal authority to endorse it. He said if we were to endorse it, this would narrow our options of what we could do in the future. He cited the Harpswell project, where the town was offered an eight-million-dollar deal. Robbinston was offered three million, and the tribe was offered 12 million. If we were to approve this package now, we may end up with egg on our face."
Questions arose about a possibility of a conflict surrounding the view of town counsel toward LNG. Guisinger told the group that the lawyer for the town is, in fact, against LNG.
"Well, then, you've wasted your money," said one resident.
"What about seeing another lawyer, one that isn't local?" asked another.
Some discussion ensued, a discussion that was direct but civil between those on the two sides of the issue. Directing a question to Turner, John Cook asked, "What are you asking us to approve anyway?"
Turner said, "I'm asking the selectmen to approve what we have done to date. We are trying to make a reasonable deal for Perry, and I am going to do the very best I can for Perry."
Selectman John Spinney directed a comment to Turner, "As a citizen, I accept the package offered and what you are trying to do."
Turner then posed the question to Selectman Dick Adams, "Dick, and you, do you accept it?"
Adams said, "Yes. Yes I do, as a citizen."
Other opinions about LNG, the proposed deal and upcoming studies regarding the issue were voiced. Bill Kendall said, "We need to wait for the Whole Bay Study coming out at the end of March. Both sides should support the study by Yellow Wood [Associates]. There will be a lot of input on both the U.S. and Canadian sides about it."
Many agreed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would have the final say. One proponent said, "We won't have any say then, no deal. That is why we are still negotiating."
An opponent replied, "But we've already had the vote and the town was against it."
Adams said, "That vote was for the use of tribal land only, Article 40. The town voted on whether or not to use the annexed land at the reservation."
A proponent said, "A lot of people had misinformation about LNG then; now it is a different story."
Some proponents talked about people "from away." One stated, "People who have lived here all their lives understand that there are no more jobs here, no fishing and no work. We need development."
Guisinger's response was, "We need to act like a community. It's not like you're from here or you're from away. We need to work together on this."
Dot Turner asked, "What else do you have in mind [for jobs]?"
Cook answered, "We do have something else in mind, but we're not going to announce it right now."
The discussion shifted to jobs versus natural resources in the area and "the value of what we have here now." Geneva Frost said, "We need to respect our pieces of land, our private property rights, and our history. What about our elderly, is that all they'll have left to look at, something like that in the bay?"
Nearing the end of the discussion, Cook said, "This has been a great exchange. There's no doubt that this will have a huge impact on Perry. We need to do some investigating while waiting throughout the FERC process."
Adams said at the close of the meeting, "We've already discussed it quite thoroughly."
Discussion of other agenda items was limited because of snow conditions outside, but included a talk from Kevin Shorey, Perry business owner and a member of the Washington County Commissioners. He asked people in the town of Perry to attend a hearing and special town meeting regarding his proposal for a Community Development Block Grant application and a designation to put his business, Quoddy Footwear, under a Pine Tree Zone. The hearing will be held on Tuesday, February 7, at 7 p.m. at the Perry Elementary School, and the special town meeting will be held immediately afterwards, at about 7:50 p.m.
On behalf of the Town of Perry, town selectmen sent condolences and a card to the family of Melvin Francis, governor of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.