Letters, Camden Herald
You may have heard that there is a contingent of downtown Rockport residents who oppose building a bigger and better library at the Rockport Elementary School (RES) site. They want to keep the library where it is now. To boost their case, they have hopelessly muddled the facts and have attacked the meticulous, transparent process that led to the RES recommendation.
But the debate has also taken a strange twist lately as opponents of moving the library have adopted an odd argument: that Rockport residents oppose a bigger library at the RES site, but also that those residents should not be able to vote on the issue.
Let’s first clarify the facts:
Rockport’s Library is charming and beloved, but it has a problem: It is cramped. Books are stacked on top of shelves; and for every book that is added to the collection, a book has to be thrown out. The 120 visitors a day — 32,000 people per year — share one bathroom. There is one dedicated library parking spot, and it is set aside for the handicapped. There is no group meeting space, no quiet reading area, no manageable work space for librarians, and no storage area for extra chairs and tables.
During an impartial and extensive listening tour conducted last fall to solicit input about the library, Rockport residents praised their librarians but described the library’s physical space as “cramped,” “jammed up,” and “too small.” The results of the listening tour also showed that Rockport residents want more from their library than simply a place to check out books. People are craving a home for books and technology, a gathering space for meetings and presentations, and an inclusive environment for all ages, including young adults.
Those are some of the reasons an independent steering committee has suggested that a new library be built on the empty RES site just a half-mile around the corner. After reviewing eight possible locations including the present site, the committee unanimously recommended the RES site since it provides space a new building with plenty of accessible parking and the option for expansion as the library continues to grow.
The committee endorsed the move because the current building is so cramped, and there is little room for future growth there. The current library is just over 3,000 square feet, but a recent study shows the library’s collection – 32,000 print volumes and 4,000 non-print items (including audio books, DVDs, music CDs, digital downloads, e-readers, musical instruments, and more) – plus space for staff and patrons is already operating as though it were in a building of 6,566 square feet.
The current site could conceivably hold a facility up to 10,000 square feet if built to the limits of its lot. Even that would require the elimination of the precious little outdoor space there now, and parking would still be an issue. More importantly, what about future growth for the community? Attendance at the library has more than doubled during the past 20 years and that trend is expected to continue.
A new facility adjacent to the ball fields on the RES site could live up to Rockport’s needs and aspirations without losing the comfortable, friendly, cozy Maine-style library that residents love. A new library building could also provide a gateway to the harbor and downtown businesses, plus serve as an anchor for an expanded village. It would preserve the playing fields and green space, so valuable to us all, while providing adequate parking and ease of access of West Street for residents of all Rockport neighborhoods.
The Rockport Select Board recently decide Rockport residents will have a chance to vote next fall for or against a library on the RES sites. A full public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 7 p.m. at the Opera House. See you there!
Chair, Rockport Library Committee
Not just about the library
The debate over the location of the Rockport Public Library should be as much about the Town of Rockport as it is about the library. We should be planning ahead for the whole town, not just the library.
It just doesn’t make sense to cram every institution and building of importance into a space of two or three blocks with a dangerous intersection in the middle and essentially no parking.
I agree with the assertion that it is good planning to locate the library in the center of town. But what is the center of this town? When the community built the Rockport Elementary School on West Street they must have thought that site qualified. It certainly proved to be central for many years with some kids walking to school and others bussed in or delivered by their parents. Once the Elm Street School closed in Camden it turned out to be central for Camden families, as well. What better proof do we need that the RES site works?
When Mary Louise Curtis Bok chose the corner of Main Street and Atlantic Avenue as the location for the Camden Public Library I don’t think she perceived that site to be on the outskirts of town. Today most people consider it to be downtown. Yet the distance from the post office to the library in Camden is about the same as it would be here if we built our new library at the RES site.
We need to be careful that we don’t think too small. Rockport is more than a tiny little hamlet in the bend of the road.
In God We Trust
In the July 10 Village Soup newspapers Mr. Springer calls into question the facts of the article entitled, “In God We Trust”. The only problem with Mr. Springer’s assertions is that what he calls into question is either poor reading on his part or misinformation by him.
The entire point of the article was that the Founding Fathers were for the most part men of the Christian faith. The title “In God We Trust” was used as a common phrase today that would portray their faith. It was never stated that the phrase was used or invented by the Founders. The fact that “In God We Trust” became an official motto and then used on our currency later in history was only made possible by the fact that the Founders were men of the Christian faith and that the country was founded on Christian principles. The idea presented was simply that it was faith in God that gave them comfort as they made speeches, wrote letters and memoirs, and some as they signed that Declaration.
Mr. Springer seems to have a problem with some of the men who were mentioned. He is correct that John Dickenson did not sign the Declaration. The only problem with Mr. Springer is that he evidently does not read very carefully. John Dickenson was credited in the article with signing the Constitution, not the Declaration. It is true that other men mentioned in that article also did not sign the Declaration, but once again it was not stated that they did sign the document but proper credit was given to the source of their words. Mr. Springer also seems to portray John Dickenson as some sort of bad person because he “opposed independence and hightailed out of Congress”. Mr. Dickenson was from Pennsylvania and was highly influenced by the Quaker set of beliefs. He deplored violence and wanted to find another way to change England’s actions towards the colonies. He did not vote against the Declaration but abstained. After the Revolution he actively participated in the forming of the Constitution.
Mr. Springer also wonders why Thomas Jefferson was not quoted. However, Mr. Springer is caught in his own misinformation, as Thomas Jefferson was quoted and Mr. Springer even acknowledged it. Mr. Jefferson is regarded as the author of the Declaration. Phrases from the Declaration, showing faith in God, were included in the article; “Nature’s God” and “Divine Providence”. What better way to quote Thomas Jefferson that to show his faith by using phrases from the Declaration itself.
One should not discredit someone else’s writing by leading readers to believe that facts are being quoted, when in fact, a misuse of the facts is being put forth.
Dale Landrith Sr.
Wildly successful? Not.
Last Thursday's editorial titled "Bear baiting, hounding, trapping is [sic] necessary" referred to Maine's current bear-hunting practices as "wildly successful." This is laughable in view of the fact that Maine's bear population has grown 30 percent in the past 10 years. Baiting is the problem, not the solution. With 6 million tons of bait consumed by 30,000 bears, each bear could be getting fat on about 200 pounds of junk food. Fatter females bear cubs at a younger age and produce more numerous cubs with a better survival potential. In addition, the smell of humans lingers at bait sites, and bears associate that smell with food, leading them to follow the trail into humans' territory. If we want to avoid human-bear conflicts, we must stop feeding the bears.
Opponents of Maine's bear referendum also accuse proponents of having an emotional response to a Humane Society agenda, yet they themselves use preposterously transparent scare tactics to raise alarm about how Maine will be overrun by dangerous, destructive bears. Who's really playing on our emotions? Besides, since when did compassion for other species get such a bad name? If you think Maine's current bear-hunting practices are necessary, not cruel, go to fairbearhunt.com/cruelty before you vote on this referendum.
The editorial offered data about bear hunting in some other states but didn't mention the truly successful bear management practices in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, all of which banned baiting and hounding more than 20 years ago (trapping had been outlawed there many years previously). When the referendum passes, Maine's hunting laws will more closely resemble those three states, where the number of bear hunters has risen by an average of 289 percent. Interest in fair-chase bear hunting has increased dramatically, along with bear take. Since Oregon prohibited bear hounding and baiting in 1994, bear tag sales have tripled. In Washington, the number of bear hunters has almost doubled, and the number of bear hunters in Colorado has more than tripled. Go to fairbearhunt.com and read the very informative Washington case study about what happened when baiting and hounding were discontinued. In summary, the number of bears taken increased by 16 percent.
Remember, baiting is the problem, not the solution, so please join me and thousands of other Maine residents who will be voting yes on Question 1 in November.