‘We Tend to Get Neglected’: Maine Islanders Push to Secede From Portland

Some residents of Great Diamond Island in Maine's Casco Bay want the island to become its own town and secede from Portland.

One of the leaders of the effort, Chris Mooney, who helped co-found the Great Diamond Island Exploratory Committee, says the city has ignored issues of concern for island residents.

"We tend to get neglected out here on the island," he said. "I think it's a common theme for islands in general."

Great Diamond Island has about 65 year-round residents. In the summer, that number grows to around 300.

The island does not have a school or a library, and it does not have a permanent law enforcement presence.

Because of that, Mooney says the islanders are being overtaxed for services they do not get, including what he calls a lack of willingness by the city to find a solution to reduce parking near the Portland ferry terminal. Islanders have seen spaces dwindle as Portland has swelled, but they do not think the city has adequately addressed the problem.

Last fall, Mooney and others began forming their committee, which eventually drafted a secession petition, which Mooney and another co-founder, Matt Hoffner, attempted to deliver to Portland City Hall this week.

Because some of the pages were photocopied, the city could not accept the forms, which means the pair will have to return next week with the originals.

Even once that happens, there are many more steps to secession.

By law, the city and island must attempt to work out their differences.

Mooney says he's open to reaching an agreement and there is no "ill will" against Portland, just an ask that greater attention be paid to the island.

"We're just not large enough of a constituency to get movement on the issues that are important to us," said Mooney.

If those talks fail, then the Maine state legislature must approve a referendum by Great Diamond Island in which the majority vote to secede.

Jessica Grondin, a spokeswoman for the City of Portland, said the city will not be commenting on the petition until after it is officially received with all signatures valid.

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