Letters to the editor — The Courier-Gazette
Congratulations to all of you for your perseverance and for the professional manner in which you allowed the Rockland Planning Board process to run its course.
Many of us who have worked for years to help Rockland progress to the next stage of its existence as a viable and useful year-round community are gratified that you have decided to bring CMCA to the core area of our creative economy.
We can help you to realize a modern center for contemporary art that will completely compliment the more traditional mission of the Farnsworth Museum. And you can help us to continue our small city's desire to serve our residents and visitors far into the future.
Thank you for your faith in us and welcome to Rockland!
The public hearing section of the Rockland Planning Commission meeting regarding the Center for Maine Contemporary Art relocation design began with commission member George Terrien charging those in attendance to strictly adhere to existing design codes and specifications in their comments, as these were the only concerns of the Commission would take into consideration. Nothing else was to be discussed. That was what was said. In reality, however, what was deemed acceptable was clearly dependent upon who was speaking.
Kendall Merriam, a previous Rockland Poet Laureate, was first to approach the podium. He began reading his poem-as-commentary, which reflected what he had seen and heard from residents regarding the Center for Maine Contemporary Art design, and made the mistake of not censoring it for political correctness. Chairman Lausten advised Merriam that if he continued he would have to sit down. Mr. Merriam replied that he simply wanted to finish reading his poem.
I was next up. As I approached the podium, Chairman Lausten stated that comments should be positive. I had abandoned my comments save for those that were code/ordinance related, so when I arrived at the podium his cautionary lingered in the air, the sense of overwhelming censorship was complete. So, I said my couple of lines regarding the length of the facade taking up more than 72 percent of the street line, and referred to the ordinance regarding street frontage. And sat down.
Then, despite the cautionary, subsequent speakers, including Dan Bookham, proceeded to give comments that were not about the codes and standards, but rather, invoked U.S. Supreme Court decisions that "interpreted" Constitutional law, and inferring that the same should hold for true for City of Rockland ordinances and the officials who address them.
Neither he nor other speakers were cautioned or stopped. Even Frank Isganitis' brilliantly to the point comments unexpectedly veered into the growth and importance of the arts in Savannah, Ga. Up to that point, he was wonderfully on point, and his example was fine, but it was not in keeping with the Terrien/Lausten rulings. But this just goes to show that it is nearly impossible to adhere to the strict standards ostensibly imposed by Terrien and Lausten, and the Planning Commission had better give a list of rules to the public prior to meetings, and make certain they are adhered to uniformly.
Given that non-standards comments were allowed, I attempted to go to the podium several times because no one else was approaching it, but, invariably, someone got up to speak, so I hastily retreated. New speakers have first rights. Their comments must be heard. It is only when there is not a lot of public comment that the decision can easily be made to allow a resident more than one comment. That is fair and just, and respect that procedure.
But then Lausten gave the directive that people could only comment once, (even though no one was approaching the podium). That was it for me. I left. When rules that are laid down are followed, everyone can participate. It is then a representative democratic process. That's not what happened this evening. Once again, a heavy hand ruled.
Residents should be outraged, and perhaps, given their absence at meetings, it is proof that they have, as I am so often told, "Been there, done that - never again." This shouldn't be. But quasi public hearings reinforce their continued silence.
So, here are my thoughts about the design of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art: I think the design is antithetical to the planning the City of Rockland has enacted. If CMCA had wanted to bring attention to this move, they might well have held a competition for the architectural design, as so many other art organizations have done. But beyond that, the materials used for the CMCA should be local, and, preferably, of an historic nature. In Rockland, that means cement. If you do a Google search for cement contemporary art museum and look at images, why, there are a host of place-making designs that directly reflect a city with a history like that of Rockland, with sweeping sail-like structures, for example.
Dragon Cement could be brought in on the project. As it stands, a type of corrugated metal is to be used on the outside of the new building. Concrete and a partnership with Dragon seem a good way to go. The Brooklyn Museum has an oil painting study in its collection by Rackstraw Downes, entitled "Dragon Cement, Rock Crushing Operation." We have the real deal right here. There are design options that are contemporary and positively breath-taking. The Mori design is not one of them.
Ultimately, the situation is this: heavy-handed, fluctuating rules within the City Hall chambers, a weighty segment of the community that wants CMCA installed regardless of the appropriateness of its design, censorship of the arts in the guise of political correctness, and an abhorrence of the passion that creates them. The newly-envisioned CMCA could be a highlight in Rockland. Will it be so, or, will it stand as a monument to vested political interest.
Both Carrie and I would like to extend our gratitude to the community, our friends and family. Although we were devastated by the situation everyone refused to let us fall, with all the love and generosity our life has a new beginning. We love and thank you all. Zack Herrick, The Landings Restaurant (The Millers), Rockland Fire Department, Princes Furniture, AutoMaster Collision Center, Owls Head Baptist Church, Rock Harbor, Park Street Grill, Maine Coast Optical, Myrtle Street Tavern, Water Works Restaurant, Hampton Inn, Jim Kalloch, US Cellular, Bricks Restaurant, Jeff's Marine, Rockland Marketplace, Owls Head Lobster Co., Stone Coast CrossFit, Heidi's Heavenly Threads, Play Days, Synergy Massage & Body Work, Knights Marine Service, Pet Quarters, F/V Bella Crie, Samoset Resort, Schooner Bay Taxi, Main St Salon, Highlands Cafe, Pope Memorial Humane Society, TD Bank (Camden), Mike's Alignment And Repair Inc., In Good Company, Shaws, Hannaford, North Center, Trackside, Rockbound Computer, Symmetry, The Free Press, Peggy Kinney, Pat Lowe, Cynthia Powell, Lindsay Oakes, Jimmy Philbrook, Justin Philbrook, Ryan Miller, Ainslee Pine, John Walker
David and Carrie Johnson
March for Meals
MCH Meals on Wheels thanks everyone who participated in our March for Meals campaign to raise awareness for our program which serves 125 hot meals a day across Knox County. Our senior clients were delighted to have Congresswoman Chellie Pingree deliver Meals on Wheels on March 24 along with other representatives across the country who participated in the national campaign. Thank you to Cappy’s Chowder House, who donated half of food sales to MCH Meals on Wheels on March 5, as part of their Community Connections Program. Volunteers provided by Pop the Change helped deliver a special St. Patrick’s Day meal to seniors across Knox County on March 15. Thank you to the high schools jazz band members and directors of Medomak Valley, Belfast and Camden Hills for lending their musical abilities to the Jazz for Meals concert March 27. A special thank you goes to Bangor Savings Bank for sponsoring Jazz for Meals and to the Owls Head Transportation Museum, its staff and volunteers, for hosting the event. The following local businesses donated food, flowers and posters so all funds raised at the event directly benefited MCH Meals on Wheels: Thomaston Grocery, Lincoln’s Country Store of Warren, Domino’s Pizza, Dream Kitchen Studio, Lowes Home Improvement and Long’s Funeral Home in Camden. Finally, MCH Meals on Wheels is appreciative of our community that continues to support our critical service that helps aging Knox County residents remain safe and healthy in their own homes.
Ann Parent, MCH board member
Lee Karker, executive director of MCH
End of an era
On Sunday, March 16, an era came to an end. It was the last day of running of the big T-bar at the Snow Bowl.
I rode the “Big T” the day it opened in January 1967, I rode it the last day it operated on Sunday, and every year in between. It was like the passing of a friend. The Big T served the Snow Bowl well for 47 years.
What I call “Phase Three” is under way. The Snow Bowl expansion has started. It wasn’t the first expansion:
“Phase One” was when a group of dedicated volunteers decided to build a lodge and offer skiing and skating at Hosmer Pond (1936). Hundreds of volunteers gave thousands of hours to make this happen. Over the next 30 years again hundreds of volunteers gave thousands of hours to keep the Snow Bowl operating. During this time nearly all the operations, from management to fundraising to trail clearing, ski school, ski patrol, and ticket sales, was done by volunteers.
What I call “Phase Two” was when the Big T was installed (January 1967) and started carrying skiers to the top of the hill. That fall the lodge burned. Again, hundreds of volunteers gave thousands of hours, blood, sweat and tears to keep the Snow Bowl going.
My point is that without Phase One and Phase Two, there would be no Phase Three. For 78 years thousands of volunteers (far too many to list here) gave tens of thousands of hours to bring the Snow Bowl to date. It was because of the efforts, sacrifices, and hard work of many people over many years.
Phase Three has taken a great deal of the same type of dedicated volunteers who have likewise spent thousands of hours to get to this point. It will need that continued dedication to remain an asset to the people of Camden and the surrounding area. May the future be successful and provide as much fun as the past. Long live the Snow Bowl!
Union & Camden