October 13, 2013

Letters to the editor: Shutdown deprives state of tourism revenue

Just one Maine vacation cancellation by two federal employees will cost midcoast businesses an estimated $3,300.

I am writing to share the trickle-down effects of the government shutdown. I am a furloughed federal employee, and my better half is one of the “excepted” employees, required to work during the shutdown.

click image to enlarge

A furloughed federal employee says she’ll miss shopping in downtown Damariscotta, above, but she and her partner couldn’t afford their annual fall trip to Maine this year.

2006 Associated Press File Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

During this time, all leave – sick, vacation, bereavement – is canceled. We work hard and save for our annual fall trip to Maine’s midcoast. For the past 13 years, we’ve been renting a wonderful cottage on the Damariscotta River. Because Congress can’t pass a budget, we won’t be able to come this year.

As I write this letter, we don’t know when we’ll be paid again and we can’t take leave. In real dollars, our personal situation means that Damariscotta and New Harbor businesses will lose about $3,300 in revenue just from us.

We usually buy our holiday gifts in Damariscotta and New Harbor – I’m sorry to say that Renys, the Pemaquid Co-op, Maine Coast Book Shop and other local shopkeepers will have about $1,000 less business this October. Our two favorite dining spots – King Eider’s Pub and Shaw’s Lobster Wharf – are out about $500 in business, and we won’t be eating your delicious Damariscotta oysters or lobsters this season.

No stocking up on made-in-Maine food products means about $400 less to Hannaford and Reilly’s, and our family and friends will miss the Maine roasted coffee, beer, blueberry jellies and maple syrup.

Midcoast Kayaks is short two late-season weekly rentals. And Sigrid & Associates Real Estate is out our cottage rental.

Hopefully, for the sake of the country, Congress will get its act together. In the meantime, we hope to see you next year.

Tina Cheatham

Reston, Va.

Huge train storage facility a massive waste of money

Re: the train noise flap in Brunswick (“Brunswick train facility foes to challenge noise analysis,” Sept. 25):

A 655-foot barn three tracks wide, presumably with amenities such as soundproofing, baseboard heating for winter and air conditioning for summer, to shelter entire train sets for overnight servicing is ridiculous.

Old-time railroaders are surely rolling over in their graves at such a cockamamie proposal, and it would be laughable were it not for being a waste of $12 million, whether through bonds or federal grants. The latter, of course, comes from taxpayer pockets, as does the interest on bonds.

Those train sets are not going to melt sitting outside in a summer night’s heat, nor become brittle and shatter during a cold winter night. Good heavens, Patricia Quinn’s Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority would have one thinking the train sets will freeze up outdoors unless the power unit remains idling.

Baloney. Highway tractor and automobile owners without garages in Northern climes utilize electrical heater plugs to keep engine blocks warm on frigid nights, as do some Northern railroads where they leave locomotives outside overnight adjacent to residences.

With groups pushing proposals like this, small wonder Amtrak requires subsidization year after year. Ms. Quinn and her committee need to sit down and study railroad and train magazines of the 1930s and 1940s and learn how passenger train servicing during layovers was done sans garages, as well as talk with retired railroaders who performed that servicing.

What’s next on their agenda when the Downeaster reaches Lewiston, then Augusta and Bangor in a few years – 655-foot train set barns at those sites? Say, why not a 6,000-foot barn at Rigby Yard in South Portland to shelter mile-long Boston-to-Bangor through freight trains while their wheels, undercarriages and couplings are inspected? Makes about as much sense.

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