Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Whittier Road to remain closed; FEMA grant pending nearly completed fish study

"Meanwhile, the town has applied for a $227,000 federal emergency management agency hazard mitigation grant to install bank-stabilizing root balls and boulders to fend off the river.
That process stalled after FEMA required the town to complete a biological assessment under Section 7 of Endangered Species Act, in order to determine the potential impact of the project on the local salmon habitat. That assessment, Jones said, at this point is 90 percent completed. Once the fish study is completed the grant application process can proceed.
Castonguay believes the town should find out if the grant is to be approved by mid-winter."

I understand how some would consider this road repair a critical need that should be corrected immediately, mostly the neighbors and school district who are required to use an alternate route. But, I am struggling with this road repair plan for several reasons. 

First, this is not the first time the road banking has eroded and washed away. When they build a road against a steep river bank, a river that fluctuates greatly with rainfall and snow melt and floods every single year, they should expect issues. Stupidity should not be rewarded by allowing it to happen again and again. In my common sense world: if a road washes away; move the road! 

Second, this alternate route cost them $30,000, which is reasonable for a back road in Maine. $227,000 for a new road is NOT a reasonable pricetag!!!

Third, FEMA isn't some magical cash-making organization. FEMA is the tax dollars of those of us working, and in Maine right now - that equates to about 45% at last count. We are the second worst state in the country to try to make a living in. Is there a correlation? Is it because we tend to create priorities where common sense should prevail? 

Fourth, as a state we have spent millions of dollars removing old dams to support the salmon habitats in our rivers' waters. Over the past decade, college students have been hired each summer to catch, tag, measure and release these salmon in order to determine their migration and reproduction patterns. Imagine: earning $10 an hour to go fishing?! That said, I would like to know who is conducting the "fish study" that is "90 percent completed." Clearly, this is a gathering of quantitative data - as qualitative is not possible. So, then I begin to wonder how the data is gathered, by whom, and what motivations drive the gathering of this data.

Finally, $227,000 would employ 7.5 new full-time teachers ($30,000 Maine minimum) or purchase over 11,000 new YA books. That is nearly double of what we have in our high school fiction collection. 


Source: Daily Bulldog November 14, 2012 - available at 

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