News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, June 29, 2017
President addresses off-campus smoking

by Sharon Bray

“We’ll just have to live with it. We have discussed it,” Selectman David Unger declared at the June 21 meeting between municipal and Maine Maritime Academy officials in reference to the primary agenda item: the academy’s tobacco-free campus policy.

One ramification of the policy enacted earlier this academic year, noted MMA President Bill Brennan: “They’ll smoke off-campus.”

Jimmy Goodson, Castine’s town manager, said that a local citizen had complained about a group of smokers on the town dock. The smokers gathered under the overhang at Dudley’s Refresher to get out of the rain, and the citizen who asked them to move received an impolite response, Goodson said.

MMA Dean Liz True said smokers had been gathering at the end of Brooke and Gil Tenney’s driveway. She added that plans to move a smoking materials receptacle across the street to the edge of academy property might help.

“I see two solutions to the problem,” Brennan told selectmen. “I cannot control actions of private citizens. So the town could enact its own smoking ordinance. Or MMA could rescind its tobacco-free rule.”

In his attempt to “address human behavior,” Brennan said he had gone to the off-campus smoking area on Stevens Avenue to pick up cigarette butts with smokers watching him.

Goodson noted that the reportedly rude smokers on the town dock were staff, not students. With the training cruise at sea and no classes in session, no midshipmen are in town, Brennan said. “We still receive complaints about midshipmen.”

On a different subject, True said plans for a high school soccer game on the MMA playing field September 30 will include lights late at night. Searsport High School will play a religious school that cannot participate until after sundown and had asked to use the lighted field. She said there would be no music or loud noise. Selectmen agreed that no action was required and expressed appreciation for the notification.

Castine plans to repeat last year’s Bastille Day celebration July 14 on the town dock, Goodson reported. He said they anticipate up to 300 people for a long-table meal and will borrow tables from churches and MMA’s Sodexho food service. True expressed concern for security at MMA’s waterfront facilities and said they could close their area. The academy is in the process of searching for a new safety and compliance officer since Ryan Kuhl has taken a job elsewhere.

The “town/gown” group plans another meeting July 19.