I was disheartened by a recent article profiling the town of Millinocket. For many years, my family and I owned a camp on Ambajejus Lake on the western edge of town. I vividly recall “in-town” days, when we would dock our boat in Spencer Cove and head downtown for groceries, a meal out, some laundry and a little something for the kids to buy and bring back to the camp.

In those days, Millinocket was bustling with activity. The Shop ‘n Save was always very busy, and many locals as well as tourists were waiting to be seated at any one of the handful of restaurants. Today, it is clear that Millinocket is no longer that busy town.

Although we no longer own the camp, I still frequent the area on my way to or from Baxter State Park, the East Branch of the Penobscot, or the Nahmakanta Public Reserved Lands. While Millinocket has changed, these gems of Maine’s North Woods remain the same: breathtakingly beautiful with unmatched recreation opportunities.

I encourage the town to continue the positive role increased tourism could play in revitalizing their economy. As a Freeport resident, I am well aware of the economic benefits of tourism. While I am hardly thrilled by the bumper-to-bumper traffic frequently encountered on Freeport’s Main Street on summer days, I also recognize that without this influx of visitors, my town wouldn’t be what it is today. Tourism contributes significantly to Freeport’s strong tax base. Elliotsville Plantation Inc.’s proposed national park and national recreation area would no doubt jump-start a new, positive chapter for the Katahdin region. America’s national parks are world-renowned and recognized for their well-managed facilities and friendly, helpful employees. While shopping outlets have their place of importance, I’d rather have a national park as my neighbor any day. I’m sure the same could be said of many Millinocket residents.

Jim Donoghue