Rockport Select Board to consider creating Village Improvement Planning Task Force

Sun, 05/15/2022 - 10:30pm

    ROCKPORT — With ongoing development pressures in Rockport Village, the Rockport Town Manager is recommending the Select Board create a Village Improvement Planning Task Force.

    The nine-member committee, which would consist of the public works director, planner, town manager and six others, would create a plan for the Village, assist the Maine Dept. of Transportation as the Bridge Advisory Committee (concerning the repair/replacement of the Goose River Bridge), and pursue federal, state and private grants for financial help.

    Town Manager Jon Duke wrote the following to the Rockport Select Board, which will convene May 16 at a regularly scheduled meeting, as a proposal for the task force purpose and proposal.

    Act on establishing Village Improvement Planning Task Force
    Manager’s Comments: Action item

    The energy and activity taking place in Rockport Village over the past several years have been truly remarkable ranging from arrival of restaurants open in the evening a decade ago to the new library to the hotel. However, the arrival of these improvements forces our community to look deeper and ensure we have the infrastructure in place support a renewed village.

    Over recent years and months groups have organized (some town sanctioned, some not) to address insufficient parking and exploring burying utilities. In addition, Maine DOT has begun to explore repair and replacement options surrounding the Goose River Bridge. All the varied projects can be managed by Town staff, but it is apparent we have residents with a strong desire to support these projects and improve Rockport Village.

    I met with three Maine DOT representatives: Julie Brask and Andrew Lathe from the Bridge Program and Region 2 Planner Steve Cole to attempt find a workable model which can put Rockport’s needs on their radar and improve our chances of funding at the state and federal level.

    While bridge funding is less complicated, other village improvements will require significant buy-in from Maine DOT and the establishment of a planning effort to establish to scope of Rockport’s needs.

    The recently established Village Partnership Initiative (VPI) from Maine DOT is a model from which Rockport can access federal funding to provide solutions the longstanding concerns. However, to apply for the VPI, the Town must first go through a planning process.

    Rockport can apply for a Public Participation Initiative (PPI) grant where 50% of the cost is funded by Maine DOT. With the Rockport representatives pursuing grant funding for Route 90 sidewalk expansion, the hope is that we will be able to put both projects together in one planning grant.

    So, in summation, I recommend we establish a Village Improvement Planning Task Force. The Task Force will serve as the Town’s Bridge Advisory Committee and assist in the planning for the repair or replacement of the Goose River Bridge.

    Concurrently the task force will be charged with establishing the project scope for what will become the involvement in the Village Partnership Initiative including a focus on parking, utility burial, bike/pedestrian safety, lighting, and sidewalk improvements.

    Upon creation of this task force, the Board would appoint its membership at the next regular meeting. I would suggest the membership not exceed nine members and include the Town’s planner/development director, public works director, and town manager.

    Further, I would not restrict membership to residents or property owners strictly within the village. Business owners may be a positive addition to this committee.

    Suggested Motion:

    I move the Board approve the Village Improvement Planning Task Force. The Task Force shall be comprised of nine members, three of which shall be the public works director, planner, and town manager.

    The mission of the task force shall be to establish an improvement plan for the village, assist Maine DOT as the Bridge Advisory Committee relating to the repair or replacement of the Goose River Bridge, and seek out federal, state, and private funds to support village improvements within the plan.