Support libraries in local budgets
Rockland's new city manager has the tough job of selling a budget that will contribute to a $105 increase in the average homeowner's property taxes.
In some areas of the budget, action had to be taken to keep costs down. Unfortunately, we noticed his proposal includes a cut to the Rockland Public Library, reducing operations from 67 hours per week to 61 for a $5,500 savings.
This issue has come up before. Last year the proposal was to cut Sunday hours at the library, but the council voted to keep them.
In other communities we have seen libraries are often the first to be targeted for cuts in tough economic times. We believe that is a mistake.
The Rockland Public Library should be a source of pride for the city. It provides books, periodicals and movies for adults and children, and offers computer access to job-seekers. In times of great unemployment, as we have seen in recent years, use of local libraries actually increases.
In addition, this is an era of closing bookstores when more people are either downloading books to their electronic readers or ordering them online. While that is fine for the educated with money enough to buy online books, it does not provide an opportunity for poor children to spot an enticing book cover and ask a grownup to read the story to them.
While the proposed cut to the library is not very deep, neither is the potential savings. We feel that making cuts to the library sends the wrong message about a public service that is doing a good job. Hopefully, the council will continue to support the library.
Goodbye Lincoln Street Center
It is with sadness we witness the end of the Lincoln Street Center.
On April 26, the board of directors of Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education announced the nonprofit arts center will close its doors for good at the end of June. This brings to an end a project that started in 1999, which has been largely successful.
When the organizers approached the city about creating a community center, it was unclear how well it would work, but the center has provided education to high school students, dancers, artists and musicians. It has been a vital and vibrant part of Rockland's community. It surely played a role in the artistic growth of the city.
While the activity within the building has been enriching, the structure itself has become outdated. The inefficient heating system and leaking windows make the building costly and raises environmental concerns.
The future is uncertain. Sale of the building is probably a long shot, since these problems would just be waiting for the new owners. If it cannot be renovated and properly preserved, it may have to be torn down to make room for something new.
We hope all of the tenants of the center will soon find new homes and continue to contribute to Rockland's culture.