High Hopes for the New Year
Knox County — Everyone usually has high hopes on New Year’s Eve that the coming year will be better than the last. As the old Frank Sinatra song goes, if you are like that ant who wants to move the rubber tree plant “You gotta have high-apple-pie-in- the-sky hopes.”
In January, my brother, Ted’s, Fish and Chips column comes from 1987. In it he totals up his score for his yearly predictions for local politics, local concerns, the weather, and sports to name a few. It’s a very historical piece and has names in it you may remember from that time.
While I have made my own predictions in the past as to the future of Rockland and the area, I’m really not qualified to make the predictions he did. I can however have “high hopes” for the old hometown.
I have predicted that the area on Route 1 between Rockland and Thomaston would be even more developed than it was in 2009 or 2010. I think I was right on the money on that one. There will be a new Walmart in that area soon. I predict that the area will continue to be developed to include even more shopping areas.
What is needed, however, is a good mall like those in other areas of Maine. As it is, folks from Knox County have to travel a good distance to do any serious shopping. Maybe that is in the future for the area? We’ll see.
There are those who say that we need to support our local small businesses, the small shops, the specialty shops that abound along Main Street. I totally agree and applaud the local organization that recently formed “flash shopping sprees” to a particular business in town. The members all get together at a certain time and all go into the designated store to buy something. That’s a wonderful idea that I hope continues. I think my friend Tim Sullivan and others were behind this idea.
Maybe these two ideas may clash, but I think there’s room for both shopping ideas in the area. It will also be interesting to see what kind of business or other venture will replace the abandoned Walmart store up on Camden Street. I know there is a “Camden Street Committee” who is working on this problem. As I’ve said before, if there is an adventurous entrepreneur out there with deep pockets who could develop the space into a sports arena for local teams like the Rock City Rockers, that would be wonderful. It could also be used for other sports ventures involving the youth of the area, like basketball camps and the like. The Rec Center cannot handle all of those extracurricular activities.
The development of the waterfront in Rockland in recent years has also been nice to see. When I come home; go down to Sandy Beach and sit at one of the picnic tables to have lunch; and look out and see all those yachts, sloops, and the like, it warms my heart. The scene was much different in my youth what with the fish factory and all. You who grew up there know what I mean.
The only thing that may be bad is the increased traffic in the area what with the new restaurants and other businesses close by. The South End is no longer the quiet sleepy area it once was. It is also becoming an extension of the artistic community and galleries of uptown. I noted a special day this past year in which people were invited to visit artist’s studios in the South End.
The redevelopment of the South End that was begun by the credit card complex along Water Street has really taken off, even if the company is now long gone. What could have turned into a disaster for Rockland economically, has become a concerted effort to continue on where the credit card company left off. I say bravo to everyone involved in this effort.
What do I hope for the New Year and for the future of Rockland? Let’s say I hope there are more companies, even a factory or two that can employ more local people who are now out of work. There is still plenty of land left, maybe along the Route 1 corridor north from Rockland to Camden. That area needs to catch up with the Thomaston-Rockland corridor going south on Route 1.
I know that there are many reasons that I may not be aware of that are keeping industry from the area. Transportation may be one of them, but I know that taxes and the like probably come into play too.
I also hope for a medical complex that will include heart specialists and other much needed medical areas not now available for the Knox County area. If you need those specialists you still have to go to Portland or beyond to consult; to have major operations; to have easy access to a specialist. Such a facility is long overdue and very much needed. We need a new committee to delve into those possibilities.
Of course I am saying a lot from down here in Georgia where I live. But I do hope to move back home in the future and other older people like me may choose to make the move back home to the mid-coast area too if they know they can feel safe there.
So these are my hopes and dreams for Rockland and the surrounding areas. We can move that rubber tree plant if we all work together.
Happy New Year and thanks for listening.