On the issues: Rockland City Council Candidate Ed Glaser

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 2:00pm

Penobscot Bay Pilot has posed questions to each candidate running for a seat on the Rockland City Council, providing the opportunity for the public to better understand their position on issues important to the town and region. The candidate responses are posted as they are returned, and are collected on the Pilot’s Elections Resource Page.

Please provide a concise biography of yourself
I was born in New York, and I had the privilege of spending summers with my grandparents in Martinsville. Started at Bates College in 1969, and I've been in Maine since then. Moved to Rockland in 1974 to work on the schooners, I owned a windjammer for 16 years, and served as Rockland's harbormaster for 12 years. I bought my house about 35 years ago, and I'm now “semi-retired.”  

What are Rockland's greatest strengths, and how do you hope to maintain them?
I'm fond of saying that Rockland is a city of people that make things. We are fortunate to still have an industrial base, mostly smaller factories, but still good jobs.

But it goes beyond that; we are economically diverse and we need to ensure that everyone here can make a living and make a life. Geographically our access to the ocean has been our greatest strength, and we need to keep that up by protecting our working waterfront and public access,    

What are Rockland's greatest problems to address?
Every time we do something that makes the city better for the people that live here, we become more attractive for people to visit, and to move here. We want and need new people to move here, but how do we keep them from displacing the people that are already here?

Everyone agrees that taxes are too high, and though the schools are better than they've been they need to get better still. We have to make sure that when we make any changes, we  don't force the people that live here out.

How would you like to see Camden Street (by Ocean State Job Lots and Home Depot) develop, or redevelop? Five years ago, there was much conversation, and plans, to address that stretch. Have you looked at the plans?
Yes. I've seen the plans, and it is a good start, but any development is dependent on money, and the city doesn't have any extra for a project like that.

It will depend on grant funding and eventually developers that see the benefits for their own projects. I expect that more shopping traffic will move away from Camden Street, and we will see some smaller mixed-use and residential growth in the future, and the plan allows for that. 

What is your vision for Rockland Harbor and where do cruise ships fit into that vision?
On a lot of these issues, we have city committees working to find a common vision for the future. There is an active committee working on a harbor plan that is trying to look ahead 10 or 20 years.

I think we see the harbor as continuing to experience growth, maintaining a diversity of marine uses, and learning how to cope with continuing sea-level rise - all while trying to provide more public access to the water.

We have to stay essentially a working harbor, but welcoming to other users. Cruise ships are more of a problem for the rest of the town than the harbor itself. There's plenty of room for them in the harbor, but is there enough room for them in the downtown?

I think everyone wants to see some limits on the number of ships, maybe a compromise brings them only after the heart of the summer, and limits the number to no more than 10 or so. In exchange there may be a mechanism to only recruit the most environmentally sound of the ships to visit. Their fees will help pay for a new public landing, providing more public access, and that would be good for everyone.

How do you think the McLain School space could be best used?
At this point, I think that we should continue with the work that the city's committee has put into it, and see if it really can be developed residentially. 

It isn't a great location or design for a city hall, but it still may save us money if the school continues to keep it for administrative offices, rather than build a new building somewhere else in town. 

Does Rockland need to adjust zoning to accommodate business growth, housing construction and industry expansion?
Some think that zoning is an immutable construct, and once in place needs to be strictly adhered to.

I think that as the times change, uses and needs change, and if done with a sensitivity to surrounding areas, zoning has to change too. Rockland was built before there was zoning, and all that the adoption of zoning did was freeze the town in a time that has come and gone.

We don't need sweeping changes, but we do need to allow new generations to find new solutions, and some zone changes allow that to happen.

Should Rockland be more receptive to alternative housing proposals, such as emergency shelters and reentry programs?
Yes, again there are new problems that we have to deal with, the world is different than it was 50 years go. Everyone has a right to a decent life, and we have a responsibility to help make that happen. Doing it in a way that balances state and federal laws, as well as a neighborhood's needs will be the challenge, but it will have to be done.  

What is the importance of local government, and how do you see yourself, as a city councilor, in it?
In Maine we are fortunate to have a governmental structure that allows towns to have a fair bit of home rule authority. That means that if what we do doesn't conflict with state and federal laws, we can do a lot.

We aren't just about paving roads and providing services. We help set the tone for the kind of city that Rockland is, and becomes. If we want a city that is civil, we need to act civilly, if we want to attract young people, we need to find ways to accommodate them, if we want more jobs or housing, we have to address those issues.

We can't sit back and just let things happen. Working with the comprehensive plan and other plans that our committees develop, we need to stay ahead of the issues that affect all of us. 

How do you see Rockland fitting into the greater regional economy and culture, and how would you like develop that?
Rockland has always been the economic hub for the mid-coast, and if anything, that's a role that's continuing to grow.

More and more people commute to Rockland to work, while other towns are increasingly becoming “bedroom communities.”

With our phenomenal restaurants, stores, waterfront and museums, people come to town everyday. 

We have to continue to work to accommodate the people that flock to Rockland, and maybe even use our government structure to provide services to surrounding towns that are also seeing population pressures.

Where are your favorite places to spend time in the Rockland community? 
The great thing about living here is that there is so much to choose from. Like a lot of people I drive around the waterfront just to see what is going on. But, I go to the Strand for movies and concerts, and the Farnsworth when there's a new exhibit.

I've been to every restaurant in town, the first Friday artwalks are great fun, and I visit the antique shops, Goodwill and Winks place regularly. B

ut I think my favorite place is downtown when the street is open for events like the Summer Solstice, when it feels like the whole city is out enjoying the novelty. 

Free space! Anything else you'd like to say to the voters that we haven’t considered?
I think we have a pretty “tuned-in” electorate, and they know what issues are of concern. If anyone has a question or wants to talk, that's about my favorite thing to do, So, they should call or email me eglaser@rocklandmaine.gov and I'll be happy to discuss anything.