A change is gonna come

Economic change in northern Maine
By AL DIAMON  |  August 17, 2011

Just when everything seems perfect, something always screws it up.

The liquor bottle goes empty.

The dog barfs on the carpet.

Paul LePage opens his mouth.

No wonder I hate change.

The trouble is, change doesn't give a damn. It happens whether I want it to or not. My only option is to suck it up and accept the fact that things will never return to the way they were.

Calvin and Hobbes isn't coming back to the comics page.

Neither is a fresh batch of Casco Bay Pilsner headed for local beer coolers.

And the book shelves have seen the last of new works from the likes of the late Ed McBain, Robert B. Parker, and Janwillem van de Wetering.

I've learned to handle it. Otherwise, I'd spend my life in bitterness, regret, and resentment because they just don't make Godzilla movies the way they used to.

If I can act like a mature and responsible adult (for short periods of time), other people should be able to do the same. But I've got my doubts about whether that's possible.

Take, for example, those alleged adults involved in the debate over a North Woods National Park.

Multimillionaire Roxanne Quimby wants to donate thousands of acres she's bought near Baxter State Park to create what she says will become a major tourist attraction and a new economic engine for a depressed region of the state. Quimby is even willing to contribute $20 million of her own money as an endowment, so the proposed park will be self-sustaining.

I've got to admit I have serious doubts about anything Quimby proposes, given her erratic track record in places like downtown Portland, where she bought one historic building to convert into some kind of artists colony, only to abruptly abandon it as unsuitable, leaving it boarded up and decaying. She then purchased another old place a few blocks away and started all over again.

I can also understand the concerns of those who'd end up living near or inside the new park. They depend on logging, papermaking, hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling for their livelihoods. Quimby has previously expressed opposition to all those activities on her land, although lately she's either moderated her views or figured she'd have to appear to do so in order to gain political support.

Nevertheless, economic change is a reality in northern Maine. Those traditional sources of income are in decline, and that trend is about as likely to reverse itself as slide rules are to make a comeback. So maybe it's time to at least look at the feasibility of Quimby's park idea by conducting an objective study of the plusses and minuses.

What do you say, John Davis, chairman of the Millinocket Town Council?

"Millinocket should not risk the future of its working forest, the area's paper mills, its jobs, its traditional access to the forests, its growing recreational opportunities and its way of life on a proposal that is deeply flawed and of dubious value to northern Maine," Davis wrote in a Bangor Daily News op-ed after the council refused to support a study.

How about you, Councilor Jimmy Busque? What harm can merely looking into the idea do?

"This is about the federal takeover of the northern woods," Busque announced, just before he used his slide rule to help him decide against studying anything.

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