I’m sure many of the readers of this letter will remember me from my nine years on the Rockport Select Board (and the last seven of those years as its chairman). Those nine years as well as the three I served before those on the town’s Budget Committee gave me a lot of experience with our town and the way it conducts its business.
The latest controversy that has come out of the long and deliberative approach to siting, designing, gaining approval, and now building a new library comes as a surprise. Throughout the process, citizen input and involvement has been sought. Yes, there have been setbacks, but the Select Board learned from each with the result being the passing of the bond last fall authorizing the town to commence building the new Library at the 1 Limerock site.
Stephen Earle’s complaint, the latest in a long string of complaints, again focuses on parking or the lack thereof. This is interesting as just a few short weeks ago the Select Board held public input meetings focused on complaints by local neighbors that there was TOO MUCH parking. It is strange that Mr. Earle didn’t make his concerns known at that time.
Several years ago, before the final design (and even before the design before that) was being developed, the issue of parking was raised, most notably by those who preferred the new library building to be located at the old Rockport Elementary School (RES) site.
At that time, it was determined that if the library were to remain at the 1 Limerock site, the new building would not constitute a change of use. Therefore, the provision requiring off-street, dedicated parking was not applicable.
The Planning Board, after consultation with the town attorney at that time, agreed with that assessment of the town’s Land Use Ordinances. The Planning Board is a very deliberative body and well versed in the Land Use Ordinances. And, as a deliberative body, they do not move forward without carefully considering the questions and processes that need to be followed.
I applaud the Select Board and town management for continuing the work on the new building while this complaint goes forward. To do otherwise would jeopardize the tight schedule Phi Builders is operating under in their set price contract with the Town which calls for the building to be up and enclosed before winter arrives so interior construction can continue without the added expense which was witnessed at the new middle school site in Camden.
William Chapman lives in Rockport