Committee ponders plans to pay for amphitheaterOption: donor pays to put name on amphitheater
Rockland — The Harbor Park Redesign Committee met Feb. 24 to consider ways to fund a proposed new amphitheater and extension of the boardwalk.
One idea is to allow a donor, be it a company or individual, that pays for the majority of the project to put its name on the amphitheater.
Community Development Director John Holden brought this idea to the committee, which has been looking for a way to improve Harbor Park, which hosts the Maine Lobster Festival, Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors, and the North Atlantic Blues Festival each year.
One question raised in the meeting was how much a donor would have to pay to earn the naming rights. Would it be 51 percent of the project costs or even 100 percent?
Attending the meeting were City Councilor Eric Hebert, Harbormaster Ed Glaser, engineer Will Gartley of Gartley & Dorsky, Chuck Kruger of the Maine Lobster Festival, Tyler Smith of Bay View Management (representing the interests of the proposed Rockland Harbor Park Inn), Dave Getchell Jr. of Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors and Mayor Larry Pritchett.
The general concept, as it stands now, is to build an amphitheater, rising in tiers of granite seats, into the hill behind the Fishermen's Memorial Stage. The theater would include two sets of steps leading up the hill.
The plan includes 5 feet of grass between each row of granite seats to provide plenty of room. People could sit on the granite seats during events, or they could be provided cushions upon arriving for concerts, Kruger suggested at the meeting.
This would provide seating for up to 750 on the hill, according to committee members. The stage would be redone at some point as part of the project. The plan is to keep the stage close to where it is now, but seating in lawn chairs brought by concert-goers would be allowed on both sides.
Kruger said Rockland would still be a relatively small concert venue with the added seating, unable to host the numbers seen at outdoor spaces in Portland and Bangor. However, the hill is already being utilized for seating during the Blues Festival and other events. The rest of the year, the amphitheater would serve as a nice place to sit and enjoy the view of the harbor during lunch hour or a picnic.
The committee also considered asking businesses and individuals in the community to pay to have their names engraved on individual seats in the amphitheater.
Holden said the plan will increase both the parking and the green space at Harbor Park.
The plan also calls for extending the boardwalk from the public landing, across to the Pearl. The original vision was for a 32-foot-wide boardwalk. That was scaled back to 12-feet-wide, with the idea of building it in phases as the funding became available, and eventually reaching the 32-foot size in a later phase.
The original boardwalk in front of Boston Financial cost about $800,000 to build, committee members said.
Glaser noted that if the new hotel is built on Ocean Street, more people will be coming off the boardwalk into Harbor Park, headed to the downtown. The boardwalk project will be important for guiding pedestrian traffic in that area.
Holden started the meeting by providing some background. The city had applied for a grant earlier to help fund the boardwalk extension, but had been unsuccessful due to cuts in federal funding. So, the city is now looking for other ways to fund the project.
Holden said the project is a high priority for the Midcoast Economic Development District, and funding may be available in the future through the federal Economic Development Administration.
He said he will come back to the committee in six to eight weeks with more ideas for funding the Harbor Park improvements.
Courier-Gazette Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.