The impact of Obama’s visit to Maine
posted at 10:43 am on July 15, 2010 by Slublog
The details of the Obama visit to Maine are starting to take shape, and if you’re a family who has planned a visit to Acadia National Park this weekend, or a small business owner who has set up shop on Route 3 between Hulls Cove and Bar Harbor…good luck.
Bar Harbor Police Chief Nathan Young said Wednesday that vehicle traffic along the section of Route 3 that passes by the hotel is expected to be restricted during the Obamas’ visit. All through traffic between the village of Hulls Cove and downtown Bar Harbor will be directed onto the Paradise Hill section of the Acadia National Park road, which parallels Route 3, to either West Street Extension or to Route 233, he said. All heavy trucks coming onto MDI will have to use routes 102, 198 and 233 through Somesville to get to downtown Bar Harbor.
Anyone who lives or works near the Regency, or who is staying there or at a hotel nearby, will be allowed to drive on Route 3 past the Regency during the Obamas’ visit, Young said. The Regency will be open for business while the president and his family are there. A wedding planned for the Regency on Saturday is expected to go ahead as scheduled, the police chief said.
On Wednesday, in preparation for the Obamas’ visit, security and area public safety officials met at the Trenton airport to discuss logistics while officials set up special communications equipment outside an airport building.
According to Allison Navia, manager of the airport, access to the airport will be restricted during the Obamas’ visit. Commercial passenger flights will come and go as scheduled, she said Wednesday, but there will be no recreational, general aviation or sightseeing flights from the airport during those two days. Private flights will be allowed but with higher levels of security screenings. Vehicle access to Caruso Drive, which connects the airport facilities to Route 3, also will be restricted while the Obamas are visiting MDI, she said.
In addition, lobster fishermen who fish near the area will not be able to drop traps between midday Friday and midday Sunday. In the midst of a recession, it seems unwise to prevent people from doing their jobs and earning money. Many of those who may lose business as a result of the travel restrictions related to the Obama visit depend on the summer tourism season for the majority of their income. One weekend may not seem like a big deal, but tell that to the restaurant owners who could lose thousands of dollars or more because customers cannot get to their establishment.
In all, the Obama visit will cut about 3 miles of Route 3 off from public traffic, or make it extremely difficult to take the main route into the tourist town of Bar Harbor. To get an idea of how disruptive this will be, about 2 million tourists visit Acadia National Park each year, the vast majority of them in the summer. It doesn’t look as though the restrictions will impede entrance into the park, but many of the tourists who visit Acadia make a trip into Bar Harbor, or are staying at a hotel in town. Cutting off the main route will increase traffic in other parts of the island, since those cars have to go somewhere.
Those who have planned a summer visit know how much work is involved. Hotel reservations have to be made, transportation has to be planned and schedules have to be laid out so that limited vacation time is used most effectively. Families start planning these vacations months in advance and now many of those who decided to visit Maine this weekend are likely to have their plans disrupted by a president who doesn’t seem to have considered the impact of his visit or where he decided to stay. To highlight just one effect of his visit, if you had planned to visit the island and were looking forward to your sightseeing flight around the beautiful Maine coast, sorry. Hope you can get a refund.
I’m glad the president is coming to Maine. Acadia and Bar Harbor are beautiful this time of year. However, Obama should have planned his vacation in a way that minimized the impact on tourists and tourism in that area. Renting an existing vacation home on a quiet part of the island, or using the private home of a supporter would have been much less disruptive but would have still allowed the First Family to enjoy the beauty of a Maine summer. Presidents have a tough job and need their vacations, but should try to keep their visits from impinging on the vacation plans of the average American family. I hope the president enjoys his visit, but wish he’d made better choices.