Letter to the editor: Kathie Grealish

Does Rockport want to be a tourist town?

Mon, 01/20/2020 - 8:00pm

There are so many places in Maine being over-developed for the tourist industry. Rockport attracts because of its uniqueness, its values, its pace of life, and peaceful feeling of a throwback in time. That, and its amazing natural beauty.

This combination has made Rockport unique and special; the last place in this area that is untouched, where Maine residents can go to Beauchamp Point and swim or have a picnic on the rocks and feel they are at home, their little beach and harbor, to enjoy and embrace this amazing community!

I don't want to keep this place to myself, but I do want to protect it for my fellow residents. Building a 35-room hotel with a rooftop restaurant and bar in the heart of Rockport Village (16 Bayview in Camden has just 21 rooms; this one will be bigger) will make it less attractive to residents and tourists alike. Seventy-plus guests milling around town and driving all over Beauchamp will ruin what Rockport Village is, forever. You cannot take this back if it is a mistake! The view into the harbor will be a big brick wall! 

Parking is an important issue, too, as the owner does not have enough on-site spaces as required by the parking ordinance. The owner is asking the Zoning Board to allow him to run a valet parking service instead for hotel guests (plus other patrons for his rooftop restaurant and bar) up and down Pascal Avenue to the Maine Street Meats lot.

This is a mile stretch of road that is heavily used and is barely a safe place already for our kids to ride bikes to the harbor or walk and play! This impacts a residential neighborhood and makes our existing traffic and pedestrian safety issues even worse.

The traffic through Rockport is already congested in the summer as many people use Central and Union Streets as a shortcut to Camden in order to avoid the stop sign at the Stop and Go. I urge the Zoning Board to vote against this unreasonable valet/shuttle parking plan. This will add more traffic with all the cars going back and forth with the valet. 

The tax income is what is so appealing to the town.

Won’t that be offset by all the sewage and garbage from the 35-room hotel and added restaurant and bar, the impact of its delivery trucks on our roads and bridge, parks, cross walks painted, street signs, parking enforcement, etc.? 16 Bayview was built in Camden and residential taxes still went up a few years later. 

Doesn't this hotel project detract from Rockport’s unique and historic status as a timeless “village”?

Isn’t this part of the planning board and zoning board responsibility, to maintain the integrity of our village and town?

Do we want to be a tourist town, now? That is what we will be. We have already lost a park for a parking lot in town. At what point do we stop and slow down? 

If we allow this to happen, we will be the generation that changed Rockport, and not for the better, but made what we had extinct. A lost value and way of life that we all so badly need in these difficult times. What makes Rockport unique, a village for the people, a quiet gem, our little haven and a place that stands for “the way life should be”!

Please call the town and send emails to the Zoning Board, Planning Board and Select Board (bnajpauer@rockportmaine.gov). Show up at the Zoning Board meeting Wednesday, January 22, at 5:30 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House (if you can find parking) to oppose the valet parking plan and consider showing up again at the Planning Board’s meeting on Thursday, January 23 at the same time and place.

If the Zoning Board approves the valet parking exception, the Planning Board will likely approve the 35-room hotel and it will be a done deal.

Kathie Grealish lives in Rockport