This is written in response to the PenBayPilot article, Rockport RES site redevelopment group readies for November vote, dated Oct. 4, 2021 by Louis Bettcher.
As stated on the Town website, the purpose of the RES Task Force “is to engage with a developer selected by the Town to design and implement a plan to redevelop the RES site. The Committee will work with the selected developer to design the project.”
It is required that the plan make a: “significant contribution to Rockport’s tax base. The shared values of all the citizens of the Town and their visions for it must be considered. It must include community involvement and interaction.”
The RES Task has been meeting and working for many months now, possibly for years. I thank them for these efforts. The Rockport website lists the members of the RES Task Force, if you look long enough to find it, as containing 11 members, with the recent appointment of Dr. Cole, and one vacancy. Yet, the livestream of the meeting on September 29, 2021 shows 4 members in attendance, and a fifth arriving late.
Where is everyone else, how can major decisions be made with so few citizens? Is not a quorum required?
Some of the comments by the few members present are mind boggling. For instance, Dr. Cole stated that the meeting to be held at the Rockport Town Hall on October 12 at 6 p.m.: “is an opportunity for the public to express their opinions. The Select Board is not under any obligation to answer questions ...”
I urge everyone in Rockport to carefully read the article to be presented to us in the November vote. It is once again editorialized and states that hiring NewHeight, at an open ended cost of $35,000, to be in the best interests of the Town and to maximize the value of the property to benefit Rockport taxpayers. At best, this is an exaggeration and also an unprovable outcome.
After reviewing the Livestream of the September 29 meeting, it seems to me that the Task Force wants to turn this whole project over to NewHeight because they are overwhelmed with the leadership tasks assigned to them, and probably rightly so.
Almost each and every member expressed concerns for having the time necessary to do this important work.
I urge the Select Board to seriously consider hiring a highly successful commercial real estate company for this project. There are many in our state. This way the whole project will be handled professionally, will reward the professionals for successfully finding a buyer for the property, and will allow the Town to impose its wants and needs within any purchase and sale agreement between the buyer and the seller.
We must keep in mind that any requirements or restrictions imposed by the Town on this project, i.e. leaving 20% of the parcel in “green space”, must be reflected in the asking price for the land.
NewHeight develops plans, but is not involved in actual marketing. Any well qualified buyer will have his or her own plans and needs in mind; they won’t be interested in what NewHeight presents. It is a waste of $35,000 of our money. Let’s put that money towards rewarding a real estate company for finding a well qualified buyer.
Relieve the Task Force of an assignment they obviously feel unable to fulfill.
But most importantly, please, please come to the meeting at the Rockport Opera House at 6 p.m. on October 12! We need your involvement! Thank You!
Marsha Steinglass lives in Rockport