Letter to the editor

The Smith family are good people, good neighbors here in Knox County

Tue, 01/25/2022 - 3:00pm

We write in support of the new hotel in Rockport’s harbor village. It is very clear that the overwhelming majority of Rockport residents are in support of the Rockport Harbor Hotel, despite the very expensive clamor created by the “Friends of Rockport.”

It is our hope that the “Friends” obsession with blocking this new business causes no further acrimony in our town and not cost our town’s taxpayers more than the $130,000 already incurred in legal fees or the estimated additional $100,000 the town may incur if the “Friends” legal maneuvers continue.

Let’s take a closer look at the much-vilified Smith family. Among other things, the “Friends” website calls them out of town oligarchs. They have been doing business here (Rockport, Camden and Rockland) since 1975. Since then they have employed over 3000 people. Their businesses currently employ 120 people and the start-to-finish total of people employed in the construction of the hotel will be approximately 110. The Smith family owned businesses put a lot of money into the local economy.

Their business acquisitions have kept three major commercial properties in the hands of caring locals as opposed to these properties slipping onto the ledgers of non-local commercial developers with little if any community-based interest; the old Hoboken Gardens site (was being considered by Family Dollar Store), the old Sears Building in Rockland and the old Van Baalen factory in Rockland, now home to a University of Maine branch and the Breakwater Marketplace.

Speaking of local interest….here are only a few of the many things that the Smith family has been involved with over the past four decades, and by involved we don’t mean just writing checks, we mean rolled-up sleeves and deep commitment in partnership with many others of like-minded, positive community spirit:

  • leadership roles with the Camden-Rockport School Board and the creation/building of the new high school, leadership role with the old and new YMCA, Youth Arts Program, leadership role in creating the Midcoast Recreation Center, leadership role at the Children’s House Montessori School, board of the Camden-Rockport Historical Society, the Camden-Rockport Middle School building vision committee, leadership role with PAWS Animal Adoption Center, board of the Camden Public Library….etc etc etc. This partial list doesn’t include the charitable donations the family and their businesses make each year.

 

Now let’s look at the efforts of the “Friends:”

  • the “Friends” formed with the avowed sole cause of fighting the hotel. There is no apparent record of other accomplishments on their part.
  • as regards the “Friend’s” rallying cry of “it’s ugly,” the Smiths have gone to great lengths to appropriately match the architectural details of the adjacent buildings. We invite any and everyone to come have a look at what they have actually built so far.
  • “Friends” legal counsel has repeatedly raised questions of conflict of interest on the part of town officials and Board/Committee members, then subsequently withdrawn these inaccurate insinuations.
  • due to the “Friends” unrelenting legal pursuit, work has been delayed on the hotel and the downtown can now expect construction to carry over into the 2022 summer season.
  • the “Friends” have asked the court to order the hotel torn down. We believe that this reveals a deeper motivation than simply addressing parking and aesthetic issues at the expense of every taxpayer in Rockport.

 

The Smith family are good people and good neighbors here in Knox County. We welcome them into downtown Rockport and we welcome their latest effort to restore vitality in a village that for decades has seen the failure of one business after another. Yes, Rockport is finally going to have to confront the parking problems that were officially recognized over thirty years ago. Yes, there will be additional lights and sound in the downtown area….as well as significantly enhanced tax revenues. To us that smells like success for Rockport’s harbor village…and beyond.

Every single one of us would rally to the “defense” of Rockport were we to see inappropriate development coming to this site. That is simply not the present case and we are glad that the Smith family acquired this property and are going to help steer the harbor village in a meaningful and lastingly positive direction.

For those who now declare that they will never countenance this hotel, we’d like to remind them of the old Maine observation that “here, never is about seven years.”

Signers as of 1/24/22 :

Annemarie Ahearn

Lance and Liz Ahearn

Manaan Alexander

Taylor Allen and Martha White

Tom and Mary Amory

Erick Anderson

Gretel Anderson

Sam and Annie Appleton

Chelsea Armstrong

Rick Ash

Sue Ash

Therese Bagnardi

Heidi and Jake Baker

Andrea Barbour

Gail and John Bertuzzi

Nicole and Neal Blake

Keith Blizzard

Kip Boetsch

Carmen Bombeke

Thierry Bombeke

Kaleb Booth

Aby Booth

Rosemary and Jayson Booth

Norm Bouchard

Ann and Rick Bresnahan

Barrett Brown

Lynne Brown

Jane Buffett

Lynn Bushee

Louise and Richard Cadwgan

Kathy and Brian Cassidy

Rutledge Chalk II

Jeff Charland

Wendy Charland

George and Elizabeth Collins

Stacey and Jonas Contakos

Doug and Pat Cole

Maureen Cole

Joel Cooke

Mazie Cox and Brink Thorne

Sandy Cox

John Curry

Jen Curtis

Troy Curtis

Pamela Dalfonso

William H. Davies

Barbara Davidson

John Davidson

Chip Dewing

Tricia Dixon

Erin Donovan

Karen Doran

Jessica Duffy

Patrick B. Duffy

Michael Dufour

Nathan Dunton

Amanda and Rob Dwelley

Sarah Dwelley

Lauren and Justin Edelstein

Ben Ellison

Doug Erickson

Stuart Farnham, Jr.

Leslie and Bob Fillnow

Brian Fitzpatrick

Caitlin Fitzpatrick

Gef and Larissa Flimlin

Valarie Foster

Lisa and Gary Fowlie

Allison Fox-Glover

Carole Gartley

Chris and Janice Gates

Bill and Jill Glover

Lee and Jon Goss

Brandon Graffam

Connor Graffam

Ella Graffam

Jan Graffam

Martina Graffam

Ryan Graffam

Ted Graffam

Ruth and Steve Graham

Bruce Haffner

Debra Hall

Jeff Hamilton

Steve and Amy Hand

Valarie Harmon

Lynn Harrington

Mark and Andrea Harris

Cig Harvey

Evelina Haskell

Matthew Haskell

Debby Hornyak

Scott and Robin Horty

Michael D. Hurley

Sara Jenkins

Curtis Jensen

Eliza Jensen

  1. Douglas Kahn

Stephen R. Kahn

Samuel Ladley

Dale and Alyssa Landrith

Jack Lane

Sarah and Matt Lapides

Tom Laurita

Nancy and Bob Lawson

Debra and Doug Lay

Nancy and Dwight Leeper

Larry Lehmann

Bill and Gretchen Leone

Linda and Grif Lesher

Cheryl Levin

Matthew Levin

Nikki Lindsey

Drew and Mackenzie Lyman

William and Mary Maddox

Jamie and Peter Masin-Peters

Jennifer Matthews

Carolyn May

Keith May

Jim Mays

Stefanie McAllister

Alison McKellar

Marilyn McWilliams

Allen and Marge Mitchell

Maureen Montgomery

Mary Moran

Mary Morgan

Chris and Delisa Morong

William Morong

Janet Murdock

Tom Murphy

David Noble

Elizabeth Noble

Gayle Noble

Karen Nolan

Pam Holland

Deniz Ovecoglu

Mary Stevens Ovecoglu

Colin Page

January Peavey

Connie and Etienne Perret

Peter Masin Peters

Jamie Masin Peters

Larkin Post

Sarah Post

Jonathan Potter

Joe and Tina Pyne

Peter Ralston and Terri Harper

Richard Remsen

Ellen Reynolds

Chrisso Rheault

Jeffrey Runge and Lynn Rutter

Connie Russell

Juliet Russell

Nathan and Jody Russell

Kamala Sachidanandan

Rob Sebold

Raymond Goergen

Clementine Senatone

Elizabeth Senders

Sarah and Mario Serafini

Beverly and Dennis Shaugnessy

Dick and Sandy Shaw

Helen A. Shaw

Ken Shure and Liv Rockefeller

Frank Simon

Libby Simon

Curt and Fran Slater

Seamus Smith

Maurice and Robin Spear

Doug Stradley

Becca Swan

Benjamin Todd

Nathan Tolman

Mark and Louisa Van Baalen

Elizabeth and Peter Vickerman

Tracy and Randall Wakeford

Doc and Haunani Wallace

Jamie and Maria Weymouth

Nina Lynn Wheeler

Tracy Wheeler

George Wheelwright

Steven F. Wickham

Addison Whitworth

Jacob Wienges

Adda Winkes and Tim Kunkel

Kristen and Eric Winters

Thomas Wytiaz

James Wytiaz