On April 12 the Rockport Select Board heard a presentation by Bill Lane of Gartley & Dorsky Engineers of a proposed 28-space parking lot that would be built above Rockport Harbor, near the Goose River Bridge and the meeting point of Main and Central streets. The board also heard a presentation of the proposed SAD 28 (Camden-Rockport K-8) and Five Town CSD (Camden Hills Regional High School) budgets by Superintendent Maria Libby.
Proposed Parking Lot
Gartley & Dorsky was hired by Rockport to provide designs for a potential parking lot in the downtown area which would offer pay-to-park spaces. The design presented calls for 28 spaces which would be accessed the Main Street side of the Goose River Bridge, where a wastewater pump station also is located; vehicles would then exit the lot down the hill near Rockport Harbor.
The Select Board discussed having a parking kiosk located within the lot, which would be used to pay for parking time.
Nearby, the new four-story Rockport Harbor Hotel at 20 Central Street is currently under constructed, as reported April 12 at the meeting by Town Manager Bill Post.
Some parking for the hotel would be behind Central Street along Sandy’s Way and across the street from the proposed paid parking lot, and shuttle parking is to be established at the former Hoboken lot on Commercial Street, near the intersection of Pascal Avenue.
Lane said that due to the sloping of the area where the parking lot would be built, a tiered area and retaining walls would need to be constructed.
Post said the goal was that the project would be funded through funds from the downtown TIF (tax increment financing) district or through a revenue bond, rather than with taxpayer money. He said that he anticipated the downtown TIF district to increase once the new hotel was built.
“Let’s just assume for a minute that the hotel that’s under construction is completed at some point. That will be increased assessed value which will be captured by the downtown TIF. And I know the [hotel] construction cost is around $6 million. I don’t know what the assessment will be, but if we assume $6 million for an assessment increase, that would generate at today’s tax rate about $96,000 a year, that would go into that downtown TIF account,” said Post.
Post noted that any money from the downtown or village TIF district could only be used within that area. He explained that the alternative to using TIF funding but rather a revenue bond would involve estimating how much money would be generated over time by paid parking, and then create a bond based on that revenue. He said that neither option would affect property taxes.
“This is a lot of ifs and suppositions, but perhaps in a way it’s as if the hotel is helping us with finding additional parking for the town, but then some of the concerns have been expressed the other way around,” said board member Denise Kennedy-Munger.
“And we’re expecting that if the hotel gets constructed eventually, and it is under construction, that other businesses will most likely expand within the downtown TIF district ,as well,” said Post.
Following the discussion no vote was taken by the board, but a verbal consensus was made that Post should continue to gather information on the parking lot project. He said the next steps would include getting an estimate for the construction of the parking lot, putting the project out to bid and potentially having a question related to the project appear on the November ballot.
School district budgets
School Superintendent Maria Libby presented the requested budgets for SAD 28 and the Five Town CSD for the 2021-22 academic year. SAD 28 includes the Camden-Rockport Elementary School and the Camden-Rockport Middle School; the Five Town CSD includes Camden Hills Regional High School which is attended by students from Appleton, Camden, Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport.
The budgets for both districts reflect an increase from the previous year. The SAD 28 budget is up 2.6 percent or $441,000 overall for a total of $17.2 million. Libby said this increase reflects the addition of a new, nature-based Pre-K classroom as well as expenses involved in the renovation and new use of the Mary E. Taylor (MET) building on Knowlton St. in Camden.
Rockport’s share of these increases is represented by less than 1 percent or $46,000. The taxpayer increase to Rockport residents is $4.53 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
The Five Town CSD budget is up by 1.78 percent or $236,000 for a total of $13.5 million. Libby said wage increases constituted the largest portion of the rise in operating costs, and factors which offset further increases include a decrease in the Midcoast School of Technology debt service and a decrease in electricity costs through solar power.
Rockport’s share of these increases is $120,000 or 3.2 percent. This is represented by a Rockport taxpayer increase of $11.88 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
The next meeting of the Rockport Select Board will be held Monday, April 26 at 5:30 p.m.