Eastport has gotten its fair share of national attention, but the city continues to struggle to attract new people. It proved a popular topic in the BDN comment section, where readers gave their own thoughts on the problem and suggestions for improvement.
Here’s what you had to say, edited lightly for clarity:
Mainative: “Eastport is a beautiful and unique place. However city planners have their collective head in the sand. In order to draw young families, and thrive economically, there must be available good paying jobs and quality educational opportunities. Eastport has almost no industry and among the poorest performing schools in the state. In order to enact real change, these two issues need to [be] examined and dealt with head-on, rather than denying the obvious. A stunning sunrise doesn’t pay the bills nor does it educate children.”
kmlindau: “Eastport may face its own distinct challenges but they are not unique to our fair city. Other small cities, most especially their downtowns, face similar dilemmas. In an era of big-box stores and online shopping where people price shop no small downtown such as ours can be all things to all people. We have a vibrant and creative community that needs to build upon its obvious assets. We desperately need a realistic strategic vision and we need to market that vision. That will take common resolve, time and money. One thing we need to do is attract more people including PFAs (yes, we folks from away) willing to move in and invest their futures in our daunting but rewarding part of the world. It is neither easy nor inexpensive to live in Eastport much less to run a profitable business year round. To those brave souls willing to reach out and stretch themselves we must extend a welcoming hand. It all starts here at home. Many things can be done locally but others require a wider approach. Maine is a beautiful and safe place that has an awful lot going for it. We have the forests, the mountains, the ocean, the rivers, the wildlife, the arts, and yes, our people. They are a sturdy and hard-working lot but the state itself needs to reform in terms of reducing high taxes, cutting burdensome business regulations, easier access to quality health care, improved education, better infrastructure and creating an environment that welcomes the entrepreneurs and producers as well as retirees. We need to attract more of the best and the brightest in order to remain competitive. I love Eastport. I am invested in Eastport though I have yet to see a return on my investment. It is a great small city with truly decent, extraordinary, capable citizens and enormous potential. Now, if we only had a realistic strategic vision.”
thedomesticgod: “First, In order for the town to attract younger people it has to have good schools. With an ‘F’ rating from the state this will not encourage young people. I have seen good families leave Eastport because of its education system. For the number of high school students that are Eastport RESIDENTS it would be worth while to make them transfer students. Calais and W.A have a great curriculum, has anyone figured this out yet. The surrounding towns like Perry, Charlotte, Edmunds, Pembroke, Dennysville don’t have high schools, why is that? Because it is cheaper for these tax payers to send their students to Eastport. So the burden is put on Eastport taxpayers to pay the difference. Concentrate on our elementary children and give them a better education.
“Second, take the high school building and convert it into some type of housing. Senior, condos etc. just like many cities across America have had to do. This is now the norm for most towns of America. I am sure there are developers that would would be interested in that building. 42% of revenue goes to support inferior schools.
“Third, property taxes are rising and there is no relief in site. Future retirees from other states are buying homes and fixing them up. Only to be hit with higher taxes for doing this.The same are buying our store fronts and occupying small businesses for the season.
“Yes, Eastport has a quaint downtown & beautiful vistas but that does not pay the taxes. Lack of industry is also key in promoting young people. I for see Eastport being a seasonal place if the infrastructure does not change.”
Dilbert: “We come to Lubec every summer & go over to Eastport several times (4th of July, Salmon Festival, etc.). It would be much easier with a car ferry from either Lubec or Campobello. The drive is just too long. A movie theater that showed films for older people would be welcome. What they show in Calais is junk (too violent or for kids). A film festival perhaps. They could develop the old factory into senior housing/condos for seasonal visitors. There were many activities at the library, music programs and more but too long a drive and returning in the dark for us. Everything on Campobello, Lubec & Eastport roll up the sidewalks too early especially in season.
“We really want these 3 areas to succeed but people need to think outside the boxes. We plan to stay in Lubec again next year & hopefully it will be easier to connect these areas.”
JazzyShell: “I’ve lived here for 50 years, I’ve seen many places open, then close. I don’t understand why we can’t bring manufacturing back here, also a call-center where everybody could ‘work remotely and from home’ for major companies. I would love to open a convenience store, but am afraid I would lose my shirt. I can recall years ago, around Christmas time, all the stores chipped in and awarded prizes to local citizens on Friday nights. That brought out many people shopping, etc…Miliano’s Pizza House always gave away hot meatball subs ‘the best ever’!! and 16 inch pizza’s for prizes, IGA gave gift ideas, etc….that was always fun, and the whole community participated. I guess this was around 1979 or 1980. Why it stopped, I don’t know? I will always believe in my heart that this town can be brought back to what it used to be, but will require different ideas from others. Friday nights in the 40’s & 50’s, you couldn’t find parking downtown as it used to be like the 4th every weekend. People from Lubec would come over by boat to spend the day here. First, we need things for people, such as another movie hall, maybe a roller-skating rink, with dancing allowed also, a bowling -alley, etc…This would help immensely with kids & adults both. What other ideas do you have that we could work on? This is the 1st step. Let’s keep this thread going. I’m interested in hearing other people’s thoughts. I hope y’all have a great day :-)”
More conversation starters from the week’s top news:
John_Coggeshall: “I find it odd and unsettling that the BDN attempted to identify the political affiliation of the candidates for Bangor City Council, since Maine law clearly stipulates that municipal elections must be NONPARTISAN.”
SmartenUp (in reply to John_Coggeshall): “Candidates might not be allowed to identify with a party in literature, speeches or signs, but party registration is public record.
I applaud BDN for doing that research for us, as it will often tell us something about a candidate’s disposition towards things like full funding for education, protecting social needs, and ensuring sufficient regulation over corporations. Thank you.”
Holly_Henderson: “Good for you guys….this makes me so very happy to hear. I volunteered for the Houlton Humane Society for years, and our goal was for adoptions not making space by euthanasia and we did adoptathons and fund raisers to make this happen. I now volunteer for Ark Animal Sanctuary here in Houlton as well and between Lorraine and the Florencevile Vet clinic in Canada, they do everything they can to make sure the animals get quality care and adopted to the best of homes. New England shelters have proven over the years that they are up to the task of helping other shelters find loving homes and not taking the easy way out. Congratulations on your huge endeavor….”
akarobertkilpatrick: “I dearly love Sears Island but find it extraordinarily difficult to believe that it could ever be a draw for cruise ship passengers. Of course, on the beach at low tide some days, they could meet the two best dogs that God ever created: my standard poodles, and, if they somehow don’t suit, there is always my lhasapoo, Fonzabellissima. (You are welcome to call her ‘Fonzie.’) Now those three are a draw!”
baywatcher: “I cringe when I hear a town giving in to a major developer; esp. on valuable waterfront that already has mixed usage and varying interest groups. User groups can define the future if consulted….how many ‘events’, what kind, etc.? How much parking is desired and where will it go? Dockside ‘parking’ for yachts and sailboats and other water related enterprises? Would all of this be sacrificed or threatened? Waterfront diversity should be nurtured not abandoned to the dreams of a developer and other profit sharers. …..just a frequent visitor from Freeport, Belfast is ‘messy’, which makes it an interesting place to visit. Don’t ruin it!”
billyG: “The Belfast Soap Opera continues!!! Amazing!!! I can’t imagine any developer or potential new business even contemplating doing business in/with Belfast. In seems the current elected officials have an agenda that is just contrary to reason. Someone needs to get that place under reasonable control!!!”
EW1913: “A cultural hotspot where nobody who actually works for a living can afford to live. I miss the grit and the smell.”
baywatcher: “Odd, that this writer omitted the role MBNA played in creating a seaside vista and promenade; since it was such a dramatic contrast to the canning plants and grotty bar/restaurant scene. Miss CONTI’s; love Kerry’s meals totally prepared in a wood-fired oven and chatting while he slapped together his various dishes. Did wonder how many lobsters were fed by the sardine and chicken processing plants?”
raysgirl: “After reading the comments here and adding my own, I have to wonder, who thought that handing out tents, with no place to legally pitch said tent, was a good idea in addressing homelessness. Tents are really shelters for camping, temporary shelters, usually to be used voluntarily. We don’t need tent cities and should maybe really address homeless where it occurs. I don’t pretend to have those solutions but I do believe they exist and should be applied. We do have some safeguards against critical levels of poverty, but maybe those safeguards could be better used to reduce homelessness, but we need people who understand the issues that cause homelessness to administer such safeguards.”
WaxlyM: “‘For some people, homelessness, it’s a lifestyle,’ he said. ‘They stayed because Maine in the summertime on the coast is a nice place to have a vacation. Now they’re off to a warmer climate, and they didn’t take their tents with them.’
“Lots of assumptions about someone he doesn’t know and has possibly never even met. Homeless people don’t ‘migrate south’. They’re not birds, or summer people. With an attitude like that it’s no wonder homeless folks have issues getting help.”
pizanos: “Thriving cities always manage to combine downtown commercial and residential spaces. It is wonderful to witness Bangor’s city center re-development take shape.”
Hank_Garfield: “Is there a separate charge for rent and parking, or is parking included in the rent? Ideally, a person who rents a downtown apartment but does not occupy a parking space should get a break.”
The comment sections on these stories remain open — please join the conversation and share your thoughts.