News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, March 1, 2018
More cruise ships could visit Castine

by Sharon Bray

With Maine Maritime Academy’s training ship back at its dock, town and academy officials began discussion of cruise ships using its space when it is away in the summer.

At a town-gown meeting February 21, Town Manager Jimmy Goodson and Harbormaster Scott Vogell distributed a letter about a Norwegian ship that might visit Castine’s harbor in the summer.

An organization called “Cruise Maine USA” is working with many agencies on its five-year contract to bring “new kinds of ships” into Maine harbors, according to Goodson. He said the ships offer “potential for revenue” if they could use the MMA dock. A “Hurtigruten” ship pictured on the back of the letter is about 350 feet long and carries up to 318 passengers plus crew.

MMA President Bill Brennan said he will “definitely look into it… we are a maritime college” that could consider such an arrangement. Brennan raised the possibility, however, that Maine’s office of risk management might have concerns about a private company using the dock when the Training Ship State of Maine is away.

The meeting began with talk about the town’s proposed rental housing registration ordinance. Goodson said the board of selectmen and a number of citizens are working on improvements to early drafts, including language consistency related to the term “disorderly houses.”

Board member Gus Basile said during his “many years” in office, “we never had anything that could be considered a disorderly house,” despite a few incidents. Some problems have arisen, Basile noted, “when we don’t know who the owner is.”

“Few, if any, college towns are without a means of dealing with these issues,” Brennan said. Academy officers “do what we can,” as most incidents involve private individuals. “The ordinance is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Brennan also commented on rental managers who arrange leases to students without co-signers. He said he is amazed that they lease to someone with no way to recover the cost of damages.

“Some thought property owners, not the town should enforce” parts of the proposed ordinance, said Goodson. Meetings are scheduled with MMA officials and with local real estate agents before the ordinance is ready for a public hearing, he added.

Goodson also reported on a new welcome sign for Six-Mile Corner, which the manufacturer made “a half inch too short on both sides.” It will not fit existing posts; so Goodson sent it back for a “re-make.” The sign will refer to the town as the location of MMA and should be in place soon.