ROCKPORT — An unofficial town committee will meet again March 27 to continue its brainstorming about what uses the former Rockport Elementary School site on the corner of West Street and Route 1 might present.
On March 27, the committee will talk with realtor Martin Cates about commerce and housing opportunities for the 4.9 acre town-owned parcel.
The meeting will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Rockport Town Office.
The agenda follows:
- Discussion with Martin Cates about the opportunities for commercial and/or housing uses at the RES Site and the outlook of the local Real Estate market.
- Continue Discussion about public uses appropriate for the RES Site
- Discussion about next steps
The committee consists of Rockport planner Bill Najpauer, Town Manager Rick Bates, Select Board members Debra Hall and Doug Cole, Planning and Code Enforcement Office Administrative Assistant Hannah Sisk, as well as possibly Clark Doran.
The group last met November 14, and while unofficially convened by the Select Board, the intentions of the group have been articulated in a vision outline and within the guidelines of four principles:
“Development of this property must result in a significant contribution to Rockport’s tax base.
“The project should be aesthetically pleasing and attractive as it welcomes residents and tourists alike to the central portion of our town, particularly if they are arriving via the important Route 90 corridor.
“’Green space’ must be maintained, incorporated, and nurtured in the project so that it is accessible for all to enjoy.
“The town must be an active partner in the development of the property so that decisions are not simply ones of ‘dollars and cents,’ but that they represent the shared values of all town citizens and their visions for it.”
Once a school, then empty lot
The former Rockport Elementary School, K-4, sat on the 4.9 acres on West Street before relocating grades to its newer facility further out on West Street (Route 90). By 2010, all grades had vacated the RES building and it was demolished in 2013, with land ownership reverting back to the town.
Over the years, the previous RES site has been extensively studied by various citizen groups and town committees.
In 2010, the town considered selling the property to a private boat business venture, as well as to Maine Media Workshops. The town also entertained creative visions for the lot. Then, community interest turned to siting a new town library at the RES site.
None of the ideas under discussion since 2010 have panned out, leaving the question of what to do with RES until 2018, when the Select Board agreed to take up the matter once again.
“To date many of the ideas circulating around this site support the idea that the highest and best use of the property is a mixed-use combination of professional/retail space and residential units, while maintaining significant green space,” wrote Cole, in the RES work outline. “As stated, many view the parcel as a ‘gateway’ to Rockport, and therefore an importance is being placed on the site as a gathering space, encouraging and enhancing the community in town.”
He said in 2018 that the working group is to “identify an organization with the vision, financial depth and experience to partner with the town in bringing this vision to reality.”
The group is inviting suggestions and ideas to be submitted to the town manager for consideration.
“Once we identify an organization that might help us to move this effort along, we plan to present options for the town’s residents and businesses to review and discuss,” said Cole.
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