letter to the editor

Yes on Article 3 on Rockport Warrant a true no-brainer

Fri, 06/09/2023 - 12:30pm

For several years I have been involved in the town’s conversation over the RES site, first and last as we tried to find a good use for the site, and in between as a possible site for a new library. Requests for proposals were published, committees formed, ideas and data gathered, surveys were taken, letter to the editors were written and read, conversations went on all over town (some reasonable and civil, others not so much). 

The debates go back and forth: green space or raise tax revenue? Preserve the ball fields or build affordable housing? Invest taxpayer money or sell to a developer?

No reasonable development proposals came in, no developers were interested in risking their own money, nothing could be agreed upon as first principles, let alone the details, where the Devil always resides. Small development meant not enough property tax revenue to even cover any new expenses; ambitious plans meant unsightly over-crowding. Neither option has very many fans. Most of us find them both unappealing.

The goals seemed to be simple: (1) At least neutral in budget, and (2) useful for the whole town.

And then both goals became possible: by the generosity of the Lesher Family Foundation we can have our cake - a positive effect on our budget - and eat it too - create and maintain an important gathering space for all of us.

The offered gift comes in three parts:

First, $3,000,000 to cover the cost of designing and building a gathering, centering space. Not pre-packaged or dictated, but professionally designed in close consultation with Rockporters, for Rockporters.

Second, help by the Foundation to create an endowment to cover the annual costs, with donations by the Foundation until the endowment can handle the future.

And third, a $1,000,000 outright gift to the town to be spent as the Select Board and voters decide, more than enough to cover the loss of sale price of the land and property tax. 

Not only is Yes on Article 3 a true no-brainer, but we can then happily rejoin our secretly beloved bickering-New-England-small-town ways to decide what goes in the park and where should we spend the windfall million. The suggestion box is open.

Jan Rosenbaum lives in Rockport