Opinion Spotlight

Experience with light pollution

|Letter to the editor from Martha Chaplin Frink|

I no longer live in New Gloucester, but I grew up there and still love where I spent my wonder years. Our parents discovered New Gloucester to be a great place to raise their family. As the eldest of those kids, I grew to appreciate that tug at your heart feeling when cresting the rise at Opportunity Farm, the vista where we tried to pinpoint our home in the visual patchwork quilt one beholds from that fabulous vantage point.

Some of you may remember Bob Chaplin as one who gave long service to the Town of New Gloucester as chair of its planning board. Our mom, Mary Chaplin, sang in the church choir, but her voice was stronger when it came to her advocacy for nature.

Yes, I grew up and moved away but I continued to visit, as did my children. Yes, the town has seen change – I cannot think of many places that haven’t. But it seems anathema to me to picture that vast wetland, where we saw glossy ibis and in winter, skated, as a ballpark with concession stands, and a paved parking lot with porta-potties.

Last year I sold my home of 25 years in Newcastle, Maine. One of the things I miss the least is how Lincoln Academy encroached upon the neighborhood. My late husband was a Trustee there; my three grown children alumni. Despite all that loyalty, it was the lighting for nighttime athletics that was the most offensive. I doubt many in New Gloucester understand how this would forever change their nights, when the wattage
will illuminate the entire valley. And then, there are the loudspeakers! They will drown out the magic of nighthawks and peepers, bitterns and herons.

A collaboration between a recreational entity and a land trust could be a good thing, but this strikes me as the wrong place for this. One cannot truly conserve a vast area (180 acres?) that, like Holland, floods seasonally, while providing for a destination for potentially three simultaneous Little League games, not to mention attending traffic.

How about considering the area that once hosted a race track – in the upper part of town? It abuts Royal River; it accommodates ample parking; it is high ground that would not serve as an amphitheater, and there is some light pollution there already.

I could not believe my eyes when I read about this on the website of the Royal River Conservation Trust. We need every wetland possible, not just as habitat or rural landscape, because of its role in carbon sequestration.
It is unimaginable to think New Gloucester has changed so much it would trade a vast wetland for a parking lot.

Martha Chaplin Frink
Bremen, Maine

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