The dots don’t connect for the Habitat for Humanity project on Talbot Ave., Rockland. We ask for transparency on the HfH contracts with the Knox County Homeless Coalition, meaning disclosure of the $.5 million MHA grant and funding source. We need to know how this project was celebrated as if a “done deal” by the state in 2018, and we need to know who in the city approved this then, because there may be elected officials who should recuse themselves from voting on this project now.
Rockland tax records say HfH is the property owner, but the state says KCHC. This is a problem because, for example, is Habitat for Humanity just a “straw man” that creates the three-stage, multi-year havoc and then disappears from legal accountability?
Requests for transparency resulted in insinuations that Talbot Ave. residents are unwelcoming. In fact, we are the taxpayers who don’t want to ruin wetlands, degrade historic structures, nor pay more Maine DEP fines. The residents are not asking for exceptional treatment as this residential area is full of diverse backgrounds, lifestyles, and a range of economic levels all pulling together to make Rockland a wonderful place to live and grow. We are asking that the standards applied to existing residents also apply to the HfH project.
Maine Housing Authority wants to find cheap housing for people in need. But they are willing to do this by ruining wetlands and using building standards below the best practices expected of other low-income housing projects, waived here by use of a funding source loophole. The state is willing to disregard damages to the neighborhood that has already endured decades of stormwater and wastewater infrastructure failures.
Rockland’s City Council is advancing a highly questionable project. There are too many unanswered questions with disastrous downstream consequences. Slow this process down, integrate professional sciences into the planning process, and play by the same standards. If this is a viable project, then the new residents should be treated with the same level of respect as current residents.
Barbara Mogel lives in Rockland