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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just say no

The Thomaston-Rockland section of Route 1 is becoming a dubious battleground. Thomaston especially has been aggressive the past few years in developing its eastern border, with movie theaters and restaurants and car dealers and a massive Lowe's (aren't they all), and now talk of a Walmart. It's an easy way to increase the tax base, I guess, without destroying the town center a couple of miles to the west. Push all the unsightliness at Rockland, they won't notice the difference. (But really, why does the area need another Walmart when there's one in Rockland a few miles away?)

The Weskeag River also crosses Route 1, not that you'd notice it. It's just a brook at best for a mile or so, and then, at that place where the Rockland and Thomaston and South Thomaston and Owls Head town lines all come together, it starts to widen into a beautiful marsh. It is the Weskeag Marsh, quite famous in birding circles for its variety of shore birds, raptors, waterfowl, owls, and grassland and woodland birds. The reason it's famous is that it's been protected by the State of Maine for a long time as the R. Waldo Tyler Wildlife Management Area. It has to contend with a dump and the Dragon Cement plant and a number of houses near its watershed but the birds and the stuff have co-existed well. There's been sufficient buffer against humans.

The river flows naturally and beautifully four miles down to the ocean. At South Thomaston it debouches into Ballyhac Cove and Nabby Cove and the Mussel Ridge Channel of Penobscot Bay. The contrast between water- and highway is ridiculous: awful Route 1 development that approaches Ellsworth, ME or Lynn, MA, or Homestead, FL in ugliness; the Weskeag River that almost could be in the Great North Woods. What's the reason? On the one hand, a state agency whose answer to almost every question must be, "No, you can't do that there." On the other, a town zoning board whose answer to every question seems to be, "Yes, you can do that there."

Is it any wonder I worry about, and glory in, the world?

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