As did most other Town Councilors, I received over 100 emails or letters before the vote on Sept. 19 on whether to retain or sell the tax-acquired property at 946 Mere Point Road. I am grateful to all those who took the time to write, call, or stop me to talk when we met. I wrote to thank as many as I could who supplied me with emails to thank them and explain why I voted as I did the Town Council meeting.

I considered everything they had to say, as well as the reports from various volunteer committees (whose meetings I attended). I listened carefully at our numerous public hearings and to the discussions among Town Councilors. I tried to follow the articles and commentary in the media. I read the comments and took note of all the names on the illustrated “Share the Bay” petition that Councilors received before the meeting. I reread the town’s 2008 Comprehensive Plan and visited most of the sites on the new “Outdoors Brunswick” map.

For those in the community who are disappointed in the outcome of the Town Council deliberations, please know that in many ways I share your disappointment. As I said at the meeting, 946 Mere Point is a sweet piece of land with lovely water views. However, when I went back to the 2008 Comp Plan and reviewed the list of costly key objectives and key actions still to be accomplished, including several initiatives for the schools and the town’s basic infrastructure, retaining the property with its extremely limited water access did not seem prudent.

On the list of properties added to the Parks & Recreation Department rolls since 2008, several provide water access, despite the fact that acquiring water access is neither a key objective nor a key action in the Comp Plan. Many of the public recreational facilities identified on the excellent new “Brunswick Outdoors” map produced by the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust and the Rec Department are neglected, in disrepair, or inhospitable, and generally underutilized, even those with easy pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular access and with spectacular views. We simply do not have the resources at this time to properly maintain all that we have.

I have been to Simpson’s Point and understand its popularity. To me, we should be focusing our efforts on identifying another swimming area that would serve more people and be accessible to small children and grandparents as well as the more agile. In my view, 946 Mere Point with its steep bluff and sticky mud bottom is not it. I am not persuaded that this is the last piece of waterfront property the town will ever be able to acquire.

This decision was a struggle for me. I wish it made sense at this time to forego revenue and expend town resources on small property with water views, perhaps revived shellfishing, and swimming for a few but, to me, it doesn’t. Instead, over the five months that this has been under consideration, I eventually came to the conclusion that it would be best to sell 946 Mere Point with the hope that a nice home is built there that will generate a strong tax revenue stream.

I also voted not to restrict the use of sale proceeds to public water access because the town has so many other pressing needs. That said, I think that public access to the water is a legitimate use of town funds and should be considered when we allocate resources. Therefore, I am not unhappy that the majority of Council voted otherwise to dedicate monies from the sale of 946 Mere Point to that purpose and to seriously consider requiring a permanent easement for walk-in shellfish harvesters, even if it reduces the market value of the property.

I am honored to serve as an at-large member of the Town Council and look forward to a continuing dialogue with Brunswick residents about the challenges and opportunities that that we all face.

Alison Harris serves in an At-Large capacity on the Brunswick Town Council.

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