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Island Living in Maine; Is it For You? [VIDEO]

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The phrase “you can’t get there from here” comes to mind, unless of course you have a boat or barge.

The concept holds true for any of Maine’s over 3,000 islands, and according to historical data, years ago more than 200 of those islands had year-round communities.

Today, the number of islands supporting year-round communities is as low as 14 and those year-round island residents are working to protect and preserve both the history and the lifestyle.

In 2010, The Maine Island Housing Initiative was developed through legislative action and a one-time, 2 million dollar award was provided from a revenue bond to support island communities with developing affordable housing in hope of encouraging new families to come to the islands and set down their roots.

One such affordable housing project currently underway is on Great Cranberry Island, which is about a 30 minute ride, by boat naturally, southeast of Mount Desert Island.

Cranberry Isles Realty Trust’s “Growing Great Cranberry” affordable housing project is moving right along now that spring has arrived. Rental applications for these two new homes can be found on CIRT’s website.

Phil Whitney inherited property belonging to his grandparents and has been a year-round resident of Great Cranberry Island after retiring in 2001 from the Diplomatic Security Service for the State Department.

As is the case with many of the island residents, Whitney has a rich family history tied to the Cranberry Isles, and he says it’s important to preserve the island lifestyle and year-round residents, so in part Maine’s islands don’t become gated communities scooped up by out-of-state residents who often limit access.

“Once the islands of Maine are gone, it will be impossible to bring them back as year-round communities, and a whole way of lifestyle, a whole economy, a whole culture will be gone with it,” laments Whitney.

“It’s (island living) definitely not for everyone,” is the common response when you ask a year-round resident what it’s like to live on an island in Maine. Then, the next statement out of their mouths is “but I love it!”

With a generous land donation from Bruce Komusin, and support from the Maine State Housing Authority, two new modular homes will be brought to Great Cranberry Island by barge soon and then the advertising for prospective tenants begins.

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