Rockport Select Board narrows in on various library parking plans
ROCKPORT — The Select Board in Rockport will convene at 7 p.m., this evening, March 25, for a meeting that will be drawing many interested citizens and committees to the Geoffrey C. Parker Meeting Room at the Rockport Opera House. It will be followed by an executive session to discuss a personnel matter.
The meeting will be streamed live at https://livestream.com/Rockportmaine
On March 22, the Select Board issued a joint press release about the meeting, which says:
The Rockport Select Board will hold a special Select Board meeting at 7 pm Monday March 25, 2019 in the Parker Meeting Room of the Rockport Opera House. The main purpose of the meeting will be to consider various parking plans connected with the construction of the new Rockport Public Library.
The process which has led to the current parking plan will be reviewed along with all alternatives that were considered, and the features of the current parking plan will be reviewed in detail.
Public comment will be received in a somewhat different manner at this meeting as part of a facilitated discussion to consider possible alternate parking plans. This discussion will seek to validate the concerns of all members of the community, and to attempt to find some common ground so that the town can move forward in a more unified manner.
The Select Board will also discuss the process to move toward a decision on the parking issue. The Select Board invites all residents to attend and participate in the discussion.
Select Board Chairman Ken McKinley said March 22:
“On Monday evening, the current parking plan (14 perpendicular spaces) which is the only one which has been fully developed with surveying, engineering and precise drawings will be reviewed.
“In addition, concept plans which were produced and reviewed during the first selection process for architects, as well as other parking options which were considered during the development of the Reed proposal will be revisited. None of these are as far advanced in their development as the current plan is, and in fact the drawings are all with a different building on the site.”
McKinley said, “No new plans have been developed recently, and the meeting on Monday evening is partly to help decide if we want to fully develop a new plan as an alternate (which costs money!) and which option (if any) we might want to consider.”
The agenda follows:
The main purpose of this meeting is to consider the possibility of developing an alternate parking plan for the Rockport Public Library project. A process to choose such a plan will be discussed as well as a method to decide between any alternate plan and the plan that is currently shown in the site plan for the project.
- Development process of the current parking plan
- Discussion of possible alternate parking plans (including public comment)
- Discussion of process to decide between current parking plan and an alternate parking plan
- Select Board Discussion
- Action on an agreement between the Rockport Library Foundation and the town
VIII. Vote to authorize the issuance of bonds for the library projectIX. Executive Session
a. Discussion of a Personnel Matter pursuant to 1 M.R.S.A. Section 405(6)(A) (if needed)
1 Select Board Agenda March 25, 2019
TOWN OF ROCKPORT LIBRARY PARKING CONCERNS March 25, 2019
The following are direct quotes or paraphrased statements of parking concerns that have been expressed by residents over the past several years as the Town of Rockport has considered the issue of parking spaces for a new library. The statements have been gathered by a comprehensive review of the Livestream videos of Ad Hoc Planning Committee meetings and Select Board meetings over the past several years. Whether accurate or not, these statements reflect the concerns of those who made them at the time the statement was made. Because residents have very different views of the issues and the potential resolutions, by definition, no one will agree with all of these statements. If they did, the Town wouldn’t be divided on the parking issue.
This list is prepared in the hope of focusing residents on one another’s concerns and moving forward in a productive manner to address these concerns together.
Number of Spaces
- It is essential to maximize parking spaces because many users drive to the library.
- We should look to historical usage, whether do-it-yourself surveys taken by
- neighborhood residents, observations from living in the neighborhood or statistics kept by the Library Director at the temporary location – some have argued that none of these studies support a need for additional parking spaces.
- Observation that the temporary library has more parking and better parking so one would expect usage to increase but it hasn’t – supports the view that sufficient parking spaces currently exist.
- A new library will result in increased usage while others suggest that this will probably be true initially and then numbers will return to status quo.
- With an aging population close parking is more important than ever while others argue that with the increased use of technology library usage should not be expected to increase.
- There is a large parking lot behind the Shepherd Building that is not being used. People drop their kids off at Bay Chamber frequently and pull around to the back to park.
- Bay Chamber concerts have been held at the Opera House for years and seniors park at the post office and on Summer Street and walk to their concerts.
- We definitely need some accessible parking for the mobility-challenged but not for everyone. There are 8 accessible (even grade and wheel chair accessible) parking spaces in the plan (one handicap designation). Additionally, the drop-off accommodates wheel chairs and mobility-challenged individuals.
- A second handicap space should be provided.
- Historically parallel parking has been done and the perpendicular parking is a net gain of only about 5 spaces – at what cost to the Town, the neighborhood and green space?
- Perpendicular parking is safer.
- “Safety” is a hard sell on Limerock – it’s not Rt. 1.
- Preserving Green Space
- It is important to preserve green space in the park in the center of the Village.
- The effort to maximizing parking is worth the sacrifice to green space.
- Observation that no matter what parking plan is pursued, the park will be damaged, will
- need to repair and can be landscaped more beautifully than ever.
- The original Bok family deed preserved both the library and park lots for library use.Preserving Neighborhood
- While this is not disputed, neither side is claiming that there is no right to pave the park – the question being not “Can we?” but “Should we?”
- Additional parking is not necessary and will decrease the property values of park abutters and interfere with their enjoyment of their homes.
- A parking lot proposed for the north end of the park is opposed by the abutting neighbor, while perpendicular parking thought to cut too deeply into the park and into a neighbor’s space to the east is also opposed.
- Some who live in the neighborhood claim that their kids and others use the park and it is one of the few flat park spaces in Rockport on which to play.
- Others claim that the park is rarely used.
- Quality of Spaces
- We should review the type and quality of parking spaces, not just the number. These spaces should be as flat as possible and doors folding back on people exiting their cars is not preferable.
- Rockport is built on hills. Central Street is no more sloped than Limerock and yet this does not stop people from going to the restaurants, events at the Opera House, Town meetings and Bay Chamber Concerts.
- The Opera House hosts 300 people at a Bay Chamber concerts and somehow people find places to park – yet nowhere near this amount of parking is needed for the library.
- The lack of parking, or good parking, discourages people from using the library.
- The aging population and the fact that some people do not know how to parallel park prevents some from using the library.
- There is concern about handling small children and the need for having spaces as flat and safe as possible.
- Backing out of perpendicular spaces on a two-way street is dangerous. Gartley & Dorskey raised it here only because Limerock is not heavily traveled.
- Gartley & Dorskey noted that when you change the parking from 45 to 90 degrees “you are taking more and more of the park.”
- Diagonal and perpendicular parking can be dangerous when backing out in areas frequented by children.
- Those who voted in favor of the current library but preferred the RES site see the parking issue as a needed compromise in their favor – feeling that they had to compromise on the site so the Village supporters should have to compromise by maximizing parking spaces.
- Those who favored the Limerock site don’t see this as a compromise issue in the same way. They don’t believe that the RES supporters compromised at all – they were defeated at the polls. Instead they see the parking as a clear slate on which to begin compromise discussions.
- One member of the Ad Hoc Library Planning Committee noted “Parking is now the compromise. Get the most parking space without short-changing green space.”
- IntersectionMany believe and the professionals have confirmed that the safety at the intersection is poor and that the problems experienced by people making a left off Union onto Russell will now be duplicated for those making a left turn off Union onto Limerock. This is exacerbated by the fact that many who drive to the library are seniors.
- Some believe that moving the entrance to the north end of the park significantly improves this situation. There is some suggestion that DOT agrees. Reed & Co. landscape architect, Mike King (Mitchell & Associates) said that shutting off lower Limerock and moving the entrance to the north end of the park provided for a “much safer intersection”
- Abutters at the north end of the park do not want the parking or the library entrance at the north end of the park.
- Because the intersection decisions were previously made and have been presented to and approved by the State, making a change now would significantly slow down the project, leading to increased cost.
- Some believe that slowing the project in the name of safety is acceptable. Others simply don’t want the project to be slowed down given the significant time the Town and residents have already spent on this issue.
- Every delay in the project causes an increase in construction costs.
VOTED by the Select Board of the Town of Rockport, Maine as follows:
(1) That, pursuant to the approval by the Town Meeting of Article 2 of the Special Town Meeting Warrant from November 6, 2018 which approved a project consisting of the design, site preparation, construction and equipping of a new library building,including all other expenses reasonably related thereto (the “Project”), the Select Board is utilizing its authority to issue general obligation securities of the Town of Rockport, Maine for the Project.
(2) That the Treasurer and Chairman of the Select Board be authorized to issue a general obligation bond or bonds to the Maine Municipal Bond Bank in an amount not to exceed $1,500,000, for the purpose of funding the project.
(3) That the Treasurer and Chairman be further authorized to fix the dates, maturities, denominations, interest rate, place of payment, form and other details of said securities, including the execution, sale and delivery of said securities against payment therefore.
(4) That the Treasurer and Chairman be further authorized to execute a Loan Agreement with the Maine Municipal Bond Bank in such form as the Bank may require; that the Clerk is directed to affix the corporate seal thereto and attest the signatures of the Treasurer and Chairman, and to file a copy of said Loan Agreement, when signed, with the records of this meeting, although the attesting and affixing of the corporate seal thereto shall not be deemed essential to the validity of the Loan Agreement; and that the bonds are hereby sold to the Maine Municipal Bond Bank at par.
(5) That the Select Board hereby confirms its determination that the term of the Bond does not exceed 120% of the economic life of the Project.
(6) That the bonds are designated "qualified tax-exempt obligations" of the Town under the provisions of Section 265(b)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.
(7) That the Treasurer and Chairman of the Select Board are hereby authorized to execute and deliver any and all documents and certificates, and to take any and all actions, including affixing the seal of the Town, as may be necessary or convenient to carry out the full purpose and intent of the foregoing vote.