ROCKPORT — At 5:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 28, Rockport’s Select Board will convene in person at the Rockport Opera House and talk with Terrance DeWan, who is founding principal of TJD&A, a landscape architecture and planning firm in Yarmouth. DeWan will teleconference with the board, and offer advice on shaping the future of the 7.7-acre former Rockport Elementary School parcel.
It won’t be a big presentation, said DeWan, who is familiar with Rockport and the Midcoast, having advised on various Midcoast projects over the years.
But, he will address ideas, “ of how one goes about taking a high visibility piece of property and doing something creative, appropriate and right for that site,” he said, Friday afternoon, Sept. 25.
Known to the community simply as RES, the parcel is partially slabbed in concrete and asphalt, residual from when the former school was demolished, and part well-used softball field. The parcel, on West Street, is owned by the town and been the topic of many public meetings and committee focus for more than a decade.
In 2019, the Rockport Select Board created the RES Redevelopment Committee to pursue a plan for the vacant lot. The cleared, level land, at the high-volume intersection of routes 1 and 90, is regarded by some as the “gateway” to Rockport, despite it being but the outer edge of Rockport Village.
The parcel is within walking distance of both the Marine Park, while both Camden Hills Regional High School and Camden-Rockport Elementary School are a half-mile west, also on West Street (Route 90).
The Town Office and Public Safety Buildings are located one-quarter mile away.
In 2018, Select Board members focused on redeveloping RES and created “principles of development,” which stipulate that any project on the parcel must contribute to Rockport’s tax base and is aesthetically pleasing while maintaining some of the lot’s undeveloped or green space.
Earlier last summer, the RES Redevelopment Committee met briefly following a hiatus during the pandemic shutdown. At that meeting, new committee member Stephen Smith suggested the town engage DeWan as a resource for next steps. The town had received two proposals for possible projects, one a housing/commercial complex; the other, an office building proposed by the Allen Agency. Neither proposal has yet to gain traction with the town.
Smith advised the committee that DeWan, whose experience includes 40 years of open space planning, compiling scenic inventories of coastal Maine, and visual impact assessments of wind energy facilities, transmission lines, industrial developments and transportation infrastructure, could benefit the town in envisioning a new take on life for the empty parcel.
DeWan said Friday that he sent Town Manager William Post a short outline of what he hope to discuss with the Select Board.
The goal, he said, includes stepping back and thinking about what it is that Rockport needs to do to inspire an active response from developers.
Then, the town needs to decide, “who calls the shots,” said DeWan. “What role does the town play in deciding what goes there?”
That decision will help developers get a better sense that what they are proposing is compliant with town wishes.
“Housing?” he said. “What type of housing? Affordable? Workforce?”
“Commercial?” he said. “Large and massive? Village space?”
“Open space?” he said. “Who is going to ultimately maintain it?”
Rockport needs community buy-in and engagement, said DeWan. How will that be accomplished, especially during the time of COVID-19? Providing simulations, and providing citizens the opportunity to vote for simulations and renditions, posted online?
The Rockport Select Board meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with the conversational workshop with DeWan. It will be streamed live. The agenda follows:
- PUBLIC MEETING -
Rockport Select Board
Monday, September 28, 2020 – 5:30 p.m. Streamed at https://livestream.com/Rockportmaine
Note: Workshop with Terry DeWan, Land Use Planner w/ RES Redvelopment Task Force invited to begin at 5:30.
- Call Meeting to Order
- Select Board Statement Regarding the Erroneous School Assessment Allocation
- Town Manager’s Report/Update
- Public Input on Non-agenda Items
- Public comment should be directed at issues not under discussion on this evening’s agenda. Comment from the public will be welcome at the direction of the Chair for each agenda item. Further comment will be granted only by permission from the Board. All public comment should be brief and to the point.
- Amendments to the Agenda
- Consent Agenda
a. Meeting Minute(s):
➢ September 22, 2020 Special Meeting
b. Committee Resignation(s):
- ➢ Chris Christie - Recreation Committee
- ➢ Paul Charbonneau – Comprehensive Plan
VII. Action Items
- Act on Committee Application(s):
- ➢ Carter Skemp – Planning Board Alternate
- ➢ Mark Haley, Planning Board Alternate to Regular Member
- ➢ Jeff Runge – Conservation Commission Associate Member
- ➢ Mark Haley - ORC as Planning Board Representative
- ➢ David Pio – Economic Development Committee
- Act on Acceptance of Criminal Forfeiture of Assets
- Act on Donation from Seaview Cemetery Association for Columbarium Fund
- Review Parking Lot Concept and Act on Engineering Proposal
VIII. Discussion Items
a. Discuss Goal Setting Workshop
- Select Board Liaison Reports
1 Select Board Agenda September 28, 2020
Future Meetings, Office Closures, Etc.
➢ Tuesday, October 13, 2020 – Select Board Meeting
➢ Monday, October 26, 2020 – Select Board Meeting
➢ Tuesday, November 3, 2020 – Election Day, Town Office Closed
➢ Monday, November 9, 2020 – Select Board Meeting
➢ Wednesday, November 11, 2020 – Town Offices Closed for Veterans’ Day
Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at email@example.com; 207-706-6657