Possible municipal committee dissolution?

Rockport Parks Committee loses members, leaving vacant seats

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 2:45pm

    ROCKPORT — Membership on the Rockport Parks Committee has dwindled dramatically, with one citizen left to carry the committee into the new fiscal year. Three members whose terms were up in June 2019 were asked if they wanted to serve again, and all three declined. In addition, one member whose term was up in June 2020 also resigned from the committee.

    The reasons are varied, but for some, it was a matter of redundancy with the 2017 creation of another committee entitled Rockport Beautification Committee.

    For Maine municipalities with June town meetings, this month is when the select boards decide whom to appoint and reappoint to various volunteer committees and boards that keep the towns and small cities running.

    At this evening’s June 24 Rockport Select Board meeting, the board will consider a list of committee members who want to re-up for another term. Most of the committees have volunteers lined up to serve.

    But the Rockport Parks Committee has just one member left, whose term was not up this spring. 

    Longtime members Alexandra Fogel and Eleanor Ames have chosen not to serve again; likewise for Chairman Dave Jackson.

    And Ames Curtis submitted her resignation letter earlier this month.

    The Rockport Parks Committee, which until four years ago, was the Rockport Parks and Recreation Committee (subsequently split into two committees) is to advise the Select Board and town manager in matters concerning town parks: Mary Lea, Goodridge, Veterans, Marine and Walker parks, in Rockport Village, as well as Clam Cove Park in Glen Cove.

    Curtis summed up her reasons for resigning from the Parks Committee.

    “The Parks Committee’s functions were usurped by Keep Rockport Beautiful (now the Rockport Beautification Committee) so it seemed pointless to continue as a committee,” she said.  “I would also go on record to say that Dave Jackson, Noni Ames and Sani Fogel deserve accolades for their years of dedication to Rockport’s parks. 

    “And I would go on record to say that the Parks Committee had unanimously voted to retain all green space in Veterans Memorial Park; that the committee was opposed to the park becoming a parking lot for the library despite the deed stating both lots were for library use. 

    “Finally I would go on record to say it was a complete surprise to the Parks Committee to see the completed design for a sign and plantings proposed for the corner of Routes 90/1 when such projects would have been well within the purview of the Parks Committee or, at the very least, consultation should have occurred with the Parks Committee. 

    “At that point the Parks Committee became completely redundant plus our opinions had been ignored by the Select Board and planners involved with changes to Veterans Memorial Park for over a year.”

    The 2019 Rockport Town Report reflects the redundancy of the two committees’ work with both reporting that they weeded Goodridge Park and restored paths at Mary Lea Park.

    The Parks Committee said it had voted to keep Clam Cove Park under town purview, if only it could be upgraded and maintained.

    The Parks Committee also said it had decided to set a uniform park bench policy for all park benches.

    Meanwhile, the Rockport Beautification Committee reported that it cleared brush at Marine Park, created a new garden area by the post office, with the help of the Rockport Garden Club, and worked with architect Steve Smith to design a new entrance to Rockport Village, at the south east corner of routes 1 and 90.

    In a June 18 email to Rockport Beautification Committee members Steve Smith, Richard Remsen and Chairwoman Gretchen Leone, Select Board member Doug Cole wrote:

    “With the apparent dissolution of the Parks Committee, I am going to recommend to the Select Board that our committee subsume their responsibilities for the foreseeable future.

    “There are several big ticket items that will need to be addressed by our group, so I would like to propose a summary of what we will need to consider doing.

    “1) Membership.  This is our #1 concern right now.  Our membership is also flagging so I would like to suggest that we each identify a potential new member to join us.  With a multitude of projects we are going to need all the help we can get.  In identifying people for our committee please keep in mind that we are primarily a clearinghouse so we should identify people who can bring skills and ideas to the table, be they landscapers, arborists, young people who can operate a rake, etc.  Good intentions are nice, but we need people who can get things done.  In this vein I am going to approach Anna Remsen of Seasons Downeast and Richard Lermond of Goodridge and Lermond tree service to see if they will join us.  Please take it upon yourselves to identify and approach a few people and I would also ask Abby and Mike Y. to add their suggestions.

    “2)  Veterans Memorial Park.  We need to start making some decisions about how this will move forward and what suggestions we should make to the Select Board.  Questions to be answered :  


    1. Do we need a formal landscape architectural plan?
    2. If so, how will the $7-9 thousand be raised?
    3. How will the renovations to the park be paid for?

               -Expect a budget of $150K

               - separate fund raising campaign?

                - who will coordinate this?

    1. Role for the Garden Club?
    2. Role for local nurseries/Landscapers?

    “3)  Memorial Benches.  We need to check the budget to see if an actual amount was set aside to buy a bench or two.  If so, we need to move ahead with the purchases and then see if there are parties interested in "buying one".  We will need to decide where these first benches should go.

    “4) The Parks Committee and Rockport Beautification each have a budget, and by way of this email, I will ask Diane to get a copy of these so we can get an idea of where we can move forward.

    “5)  Follow up on the Walker Park Merry Go Round Reconstruction.  Bill Glover of Rockport Steel and a member of the budget committee whose name I can't remember offered to do this pro bono.  Follow up is needed.

    “6) Rte 90/Rte 1 intersection.  We need to have Mike move ahead with soil preparation and then we can transplant some of the plants from the old library to get the project started.  We do have a small budget for this.

    “So, plan going forward:

    “1) Everyone recruit at least 1 new member

    “2) We will get a meeting scheduled in the near future to address above issues.

    “Thanks for your continued participation.”

    Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at lyndaclancy@penbaypilot.com; 207-706-6657