On the issues: Rockland City Council Candidate Ian Emmott

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 2:00am
    Penobscot Bay Pilot has posed questions to each candidate running for 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’m 36 years old, married and a father of one. I joined the Coast Guard in 2003 after high school since I did not have the funds for college and wanted to serve my country in a time long after the 9/11 attacks.

    Rockland, Maine, was my first duty station back in 2003, a place unremarkable to me as a 19-year-old then, but a town I grew to love and call home.

    I would describe myself as a jack of all trades seeing I do my most of my own carpentry, minor electrical upgrades and plaster work. I also purchased, fixed up and sold old cars for income while in college.

    After leaving the Coast Guard active duty component in 2008, I attended college at Northeastern University on the G.I. Bill, graduating class in the of 2013 with a B.S. in political science and a public policy minor.

    After graduation, I briefly considered law school but again, I could not afford it, so I worked in the insurance industry until I was offered a full-time position at the Department of Veteran Affairs in 2015.

    I have a strong background in the short/long term rental market. I have been a landlord in Rockland since 2006 when I bought my first two family home on Thomaston Street, a house I still rent out to this day, and still making repairs on.

    I currently serve on the Rockland Port District as a trustee until this November for a bid on council. 

    What are Rockland's greatest strengths, and how do you hope to maintain them?
    There are many, but I see the industrial and tourism sectors as the north and south poles of our economic strength. I favor proposals moving to a new city hall to expand out maxed out industrial park.

    Regarding tourism, there is a vigorous disagreement on how to regulate short term rentals in this community. I oppose any cap regulating short term rentals. Houses purchased for short term use are often extensively renovated rejuvenating many neglected houses. 

    What are Rockland's greatest problems to address?
    An aging population, aging underground infrastructure, unsustainable tax increases due to an unfair school funding formula, housing demolition by neglect, federally mandated programs that are not fully funded to name a few.

    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?
    I have seen the plans, but that ship has sailed unless a developer comes in with serious cash.

    Right now, the action is the Tillson Avenue vicinity.

    As a council need to focus on and adopt a waterfront master plan for that area. This is a central part of town that is barren and long overdue for development. 

    What is your vision for Rockland Harbor and where do cruise ships fit into that vision?
    The community is deeply divided on this issue. While I personally would like to see no limit on cruise ships, it seems the majority of the community does not feel that way and I respect the current limits set forth by council and would make no proposal to change them.

    When revisiting the issue, I would cite the recent study commissioned by the city concludes Rockland benefits greatly from cruise ship landings and allow the public to weigh in.

    Regarding our harbor, I envision a more developed north end waterfront and can see a mix of marina’s and hotels in this area someday. Water is deep in this part of the harbor and would require minimal dredging, but the likely relocation of a channel since it is so close to shore. 

    How do you think the McLain School space could be best used?
    I see the McLain School as Rockland’s new city hall.

    I would propose we centralize government and lease out additional space in the building to for other agencies to fill up the space.

    The current city hall sits on approximately 13 acres of industrial space that can be sold or parceled off. I would be in favor of an effort to unite this land with the current industrial park in some way if we could also use a portion of our public works property.

    Does Rockland need to adjust zoning to accommodate business growth, housing construction and industry expansion?
    I support such propositions and am a big proponent of expanding our industrial space.

    As a council I would suggest we reach out to the business leaders in the park and see which companies are looking to expand to gauge interest. Let’s have a summit at city hall and formally invite these people like we used to do and hear from them directly.

    Regarding the lot size setbacks for housing expansion, I would be more in favor of designating a “tiny home” neighborhood that can be parceled out and developed. MacDougal Park would be a starting point in creation of such a neighborhood if we could legally remove the 1931 deed restriction. 

    Should Rockland be more receptive to alternative housing proposals, such as emergency shelters and reentry programs?
    Rockland has been and already is receptive to emergency shelters and Re-entry programs. Regarding the recent re-entry house debacle on Talbot Ave, the owner of that current re-entry house property did not involve neighbors or the community jeopardizing its success. The onus is one those proposing such plans to rally the community behind such projects before they are implemented. 

    What is the importance of local government, and how do you see yourself, as a city councilor, in it?
    Government is closest to home at the local level and I see myself giving people the time of day which they deserve.

    I just want to talk about issues that will keep this town moving forward. I also hope to project a positive image as a dad just trying to get by like everyone else.

    How do you see Rockland fitting into the greater regional economy and culture, and how would you like develop that?
    As a council, we should strive to encourage more business to relocate to Rockland. L.L. Bean is deeply engrained in Maine culture and prides itself in Maine made products.

    Let’s expand our industrial space to attract companies like LL Bean to bring manufacturing jobs here. Let’s also engage major companies in the park like Fisher who are possibly looking to expand. 

    Where are your favorite places to spend time in the Rockland community? 
    I enjoy walking my daughter down to the gazebo at Buoy Park, and I have a habit of playing Fur Elise on the piano there. I will admit it’s the only song I know how to play, so it can get awkward when I’m asked to play another song. 

    Free space! Anything else you'd like to say to the voters that we haven’t considered?
    Missing from the public forum is a conversation about military housing that is desperately needed for those who serve us here in Rockland.

    Many communities have excellent military housing across the country.  I see Rockland in a unique position to offer space in exchange for a potential mix of elderly and military housing.

    The elderly housing can potentially be administered by a fiduciary or DHHS on the state level.

    We have various properties not on the tax rolls right now and if we could propose to our federal delegation certain property in exchange for constructed housing it would greatly benefit the community. Currently there is only one house offered in Thomaston for housing. 

    As a Coast guard City, we need to step up to the plate and serve those who serve us.