More sidewalks, more waterfront access.... and a pool?

Preliminary Rockland social survey results demonstrate local sentiments

Posted:  Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - 9:30pm
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ROCKLAND – Sidewalks and bike lanes topped the list of desires Rockland residents shared with local surveyors during 2017.

Throughout the year, two groups, Midcoast Regional Planning Commission and Rockland Heart and Soul, hosted various different opinion-gathering opportunities aimed at learning what residents found good, bad, and changeable in their City.

“You want to achieve success without losing who you are,” said Anne Krieg, presenter from MRPC. “That’s what it boils down to.”

During the January 3 Rockland City Council agenda-setting meeting, some of the preliminary responses were presented as the Rockland Comprehensive Planning Commission gave one of its regular updates to the council about work to-date.

“Our intent is for City Council to have the opportunity to weigh in with any questions, comments, or suggestions during every step of the process,” said Chairman Julie Lewis. “The public is invited to each and every meeting to weigh in with their thoughts and opinions.”

Three groups — the Comprehensive Planning Commission, Rockland Heart and Soul and Mid-Coast Regional Planning Commission are updating the 2002 Rockland Comprehensive Plan. Most municipalities in Maine have comprehensive plans and update them every 10-15 years. Comprehensive plans help guide a community’s reworking of zoning and policies, and help define each community’s unique sense of self.
 
The Commission consists of seven Rockland residents, while Heart and Soul is a mission of the Orton Family Foundation, and consists of trained volunteers collecting stories from every single demographic in the City of Rockland. 
 
Over the last year, the Commission has held a series of community input sessions, with more than 100 residents attending and sharing their thoughts about their city.
 
The Comprehensive Planning Commission began working to determine the attitudes of the community with a survey conducted between November 2016 and March 2017.  Almost 500 residents completed the survey, which was available at the Flanagan Community Center during the November 2016 election, at City Hall, at the Rockland Public Library, and online on the city website.  
 
More opinion-giving opportunities will be offered during 2018, including during the annual Summer Solstice festival on Father’s Day weekend.

 

Some Rockland opinions already recorded:

Balance

Working waterfront usage vs. recreational purposes; Year-round job economy versus tourism economy; Maintaining a connection to the past while also allowing for change and growth

Strengths

Rockland is the ‘Center of the Midcoast’; The Strand, CMCA, museums, art, waterfront parks; real community made up of inter-generational demographics; supportive environment

Neighborhood desires

Beautifying intersections, sidewalks, historic preservation, affordable housing, promotion of inter-generational housing, allow in-fill yet respect density of neighborhoods, bike lanes/paths, having a community center on the north side of Route 1, tree plantings along streets, dark-sky compliant lighting, more signage at walking trails

Agriculture

Promotion of CSAs, local farming and local food production

Parks

More resident-geared festivities, food trucks, maintaining playgrounds, tables/benches – especially at the park next to Rite Aid, more outdoor gathering spaces, more evening events

Industrial/Outreach

Maintaining public access to waterfront, determine cruise ship policy, making more use of barges and railroad, protecting against condominium development at waterfront, allowing for artist-created facades on rear sides of downtown buildings, bathroom at Breakwater, more analysis of cruise ship passenger opinions of their visits, environmental impact studies of cruise ships, downtown parking garage, mutual aid at a community level between towns as a way to share resources and not compete, sidewalks to Walmart and City Hall, a local/regional shuttle system, local/regional ferry service to Portland or Boston, more parking at ferry terminal, passenger rail

City Services

Infrastructure – tech, recycling, solid waste, waste water issues;

Social services – family services, homeless shelters, being a leader in opioid-use reduction, a pool, public safety

More shared decision making with elected officials

Concerns

Loss of community and housing affordability, Loss of industrial access to waterfront, traffic noise – especially from downtown traffic “bleeding into residential areas,” speeding, noise from train engines and brakes, commercial loading zones on Main Street, dilapidated houses

Zoning

Future usage for JC Penney, bike-locking facilities, small homes, sprinklers, green building, height standards, setbacks

 

Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com