On the issues: Rockland City Council Candidate Steven MacDonald

Wed, 11/02/2022 - 8:45am
    Four candidates are competing for two open seats on the Rockland City Council, with elections set for Nov. 8. Both seats represent three-year terms. Those running for office are Nathan Davis, Adam Lachman, Steven MacDonald and Penelope York. Penobscot Bay Pilot has posed questions to each candidate, providing the opportunity for the public to better understand their positions on issues. Here, candidate Steven MacDonald responds:

    Please provide a concise biography of yourself.

    I have managed municipal infrastructure for over 45 years. This has included waste water treatment plants, sewer and storm drains, landfills and transfer stations. From 1978 through 2000 I worked for the City of Rockland.

    What are Rockland's greatest strengths, and how do you hope to support them?

    One of our greatest strengths are the men and women that work for the City of Rockland.

    What are Rockland's greatest issues to address?

    The top priority for me is the Lindsey Brook or drainage system. With rain events due to climate change, houses along the drainage system could be severely damaged. We need a maintenance program that we follow each year. This should be a contracted program, not in-house.

    Is the Rockland Police Department on the right course, and does it integrate well into the community?

    For over 40 years I have found the department very helpful. They are professional and respond in a timely manner.

    Is internet access to citizens adequate and affordable? If not, how would you make it so? (According to the census, 85.9 percent of households have a computer.)

    I have found internet service to be adequate in most areas of Rockland. Pricing varies, so checking with all providers is necessary for value.

    What is your vision for Rockland Harbor given the increased demand for real estate, and Maine’s longtime goal to protect the working waterfront?

    Housing sales is starting to slow with the increase in loan interest rates. This should help correct the demand. The working waterfront has sufficient services.

    How best should Rockland address the current housing shortage? According to the census, the city’s population is just a few hundred fewer than the 2010 census of 7,297.

    This has been a long-term problem and is in front of the council every 5 to 10 years. On recent news reports, several cities are looking to contractors to rehab old houses or apartments. Then rent them at 60% of market levels. This is tied to long term tax reductions.

    The Belfast Council approved last April new zoning ordinances to create additional opportunities for housing, including ‘flex housing,’ an approach that could allow a property owner to construct one or more single-family, two-family, three-family or four-family houses on their property. Should Rockland consider something similar?

    The council should review this ordinance to see if it has a benefit for our city. Our major problem is the housing density.

    How shall Rockland best manage short term rentals?

    This is a business not a fad. This type of rental is an affordable way to help families visit to our area, and spend money in our city. All of these units need annual health and safety inspections. I would suggest an inspection fee be charged for this service.

    A recent revaluation resulted in higher home valuations and taxes. How will you help those homeowners facing a precipitous increase in property taxes?

    To help keep property taxes from rising, expenditures should be addressed in two ways, what we need and what we want. Budget increases must total no more than 2% for the next 3 years. The Council, School Board and County need to meet monthly to address spending issues.

     Is the city on the right path in developing its public walkways and bicycle infrastructure?

    This is going to be a problem for a few years. We need more sidewalks and most of the current sidewalks are in need of repair. In the last few years, we have had an increase in both walking and bike traffic. The driving public does not respect these two groups.

    Does the city have enough public access to the ocean and lakes?

    What is the importance of local government, and how do you see yourself, as a city councilor, in it?

    The local government must keep our city moving ahead. I want Rockland to be a leader in the Midcoast. This could be completed with input from our citizens.

    How do you see Rockland fitting into the greater regional economy and culture, and how would you like to develop that?

    Rockland does need more spaces for industrial development. Rockland owns 30 acres of land that needs to be reviewed for possible usage. There is excellent art culture in our city. We have numerous art galleries and museums.

    Where are your favorite places to spend time in the Rockland community?

    My favorite place is walking along the boardwalk, past South Beach. The views are fantastic.

    16. Free space! Anything else you'd like to say to the voters that we haven’t considered?