Heard on the Street

What are your thoughts on the two proposed hotels for Rockland?

Feb 22, 2014
"I like it the way that it is. It's a pretty spot." — Peter Digirotamo, Rockland

The Courier-Gazette staff asked "What are your thoughts on the two proposed hotels for Rockland?"

"I think we have enough hotels." — Mary Gifford, Warren
"I don't think we need them. We really don't have room for them." — Patsy Browne, Appleton
"I think it's a good idea. It will be good for the stores." — Richard Brewster, Rockland
"It's aesthetic for me. I'd rather keep the character the way it is." — Mary Harvey, Rockland
Comments (41)
Posted by: Shawn Levasseur | Feb 28, 2014 18:17

The merits of these two proposed hotels (or lack thereof) aside, having more hotels in town would be a good thing. Something a touch more upscale than the existing ones I think would fill a niche underserved. Wether these ones fit that bill, I don't know.



Posted by: Shawn Levasseur | Feb 28, 2014 18:08

Re: earlier comment

"The old saying about "Camden by the sea and Rockland by the smell" is no longer valid."

True enough, with downtown Rockland becoming Camden 2.0, it's now...

Camden by the sea. Rockland, where you can actually find parking.

(Yeah, I know... cheap shot.)



Posted by: troy a goodnow | Feb 25, 2014 19:19

Hi Valerie...miss you guys...haven't been to Rockland in a while



Posted by: Kathryn Baxter | Feb 24, 2014 21:53

For those of you that are going to miss the view. How many remember the "view" on Ocean St. of  at least 10" steel cyclone fences with stacks of Fischer plows as high as could be stacked? The Fischer plow plant with tractor trailers, coming and going constantly.

I am all for The Smith's wanting to invest 6.5 million dollars in building a better future for the Rockland community. There will be more jobs, there will be more people coming to visit, and possible be buying local properties, and then adding to more to our community.

Get off your soapbox about wanting to keep the Midcoast in a "bubble".

From the Foxhill Rehab center to the 2 new hotels wanting to enhance this community. Let them have the space to be successful. They are taking a huge gamble because feel they want to make this a more enhanced and well rounded place for OUR Community.



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Feb 24, 2014 13:06

Thanks a lot SVB!

Some people seem to be suffering from selective memory . . .  We are a working-waterfront town and although we [Mainers] have not done a good job managing marine species; time has come to decide where do we want to go as Rocklanders . . . .

The old saying about "Camden by the sea and Rockland by the smell" is no longer valid. Today we have access to fully integrated seafood/processing plants that produce zero waste and will not "offend" the nose of some of our more refined residents . . .

Just as a reality-check park outside the Market Basket and Walmart and you will get a very good idea of who the average Rocklander is. Those wearing rubber boots are proud fishermen/women that deserve a bright future for them and their children.

LONG LIVE ROCKLAND AS A WORKING WATERFRONT TOWN!



Posted by: Amy Files | Feb 24, 2014 12:32

As a downtown resident who chose to move downtown because I really enjoy the mix of working waterfront, old Main Street feel, and wonderful art and shops - I just want to voice that I use Main Street everyday - and I am not a tourist. Main Street is a big part of what drew me to Rockland and it is successfully attracting new year-round residents who want to make this town their home. I love walking down the street, even if only to window-shop - even if I'm not in a position to buy most of the items (but I do purchase my local Trillium Soap, Fiore Oil and gifts for family whenever I can!). I also love that I can go into the Farnsworth - whenever I want - for free! (even though I don't take advantage of it as much I should). And one of my most favorite things to do is walk down to the Rockland beach, a few minutes walk and I'm at the water! I walk on Water Street because it's the most convenient and I also enjoy looking at the older homes in the neighborhood - the view that I enjoy of the harbor, on that street, will be forever gone if this hotel goes in as proposed. My sense of home - will change quite a bit. I'm not saying that nothing should be built in that spot - but I do hope that the developer is willing to work with residents and neighbors to come up with a design that is more in scale with the surrounding residential neighborhood - and closer to the height of what is next door - like the Boston Financial Building. I would also love to see a design that reflects Rockland ( a lot of the designs for this hotel were taken directly from a hotel in California - the Hotel Coronado). It sounds like the developer has built some hotels in Camden - and that's great! - but I did choose to live in Rockland and don't want to live in Camden.

No matter how you feel about the hotel proposal - PLEASE do come to the meeting. It is important to hear from everyone in the community because - let's not forget - this is our community. A town of 7,000 should have a say in such a large development that will be in a very public view.

Stuart Smith has scheduled a meeting with "neighbors and interested community members" Wednesday, February 26 at 5:30 at the former Amalfi restaurant in the Boston Financial building. Presumably parking will be available in the lot at the south end of the building between the defunct restaurant and Archer's on the Pier.  Mr. Smith will address questions and concerns.  Please plan to attend.  Its your chance to be heard.



Posted by: Sonia Verge Bates | Feb 24, 2014 11:06

Its funny that you say no one works in dockland. Look at FMC, The USCG base, O'Haras, Knights Marine, Prock Marine, J and J lobster, those are just some of the areas of business that are on this so called non-exsictent working waterfront, let alone the dozen or so lobster fishermen that call Rockland their hailing port. Sure the USCG isn't a business but it brings plenty of business and helps with the local economy,

 



Posted by: Frank Brown | Feb 24, 2014 11:06

There will still be a boardwalk for the public to access (see previous article).

What if the people of Portland, ME had the same attitude of growth that it seems the people of Rockland have? Portland is known world wide as a wonderful city with a diverese economy. Lets start helping the business men and women of Rockland make our community better.

Artists don't pay our bills.



Posted by: LINDA GRAY | Feb 24, 2014 07:42

It is important to look at each city decision as all of them contribute to the character of the city.  So do its residents -- all of them.  So do its business owners.

Non-profits generally move in and thrive where empty spaces abound and rents are low.  The same conditions attract artists.  So if the arts, galleries, museums and non-profits thrive in Rockland, it is because her beautiful historic buildings and lovely access to waterfront have been vacated by businesses.  This is the first step to becoming a lively arts city.  The art heritage of the region adds cachet to this development.

The waterfront in Rockland provides enormous benefit to the entire city -- residents, businesses, non-profits and, yes, hotels.  The spots in question (Pleasant Street and the proposed waterfront hotel) are not the only developable plots of land on the waterfront.  An enormous parcel of waterfront with docks is for sale in the South End ($1.3 million), other portions of the waterfront have been for sale or recently sold.

Cities which lose their waterfronts, or residents of cities where the waterfront is all privatized, are sorry about those decisions, no matter how profitable the businesses are, or how many people they employ.

Here's an idea:  A pocket park or Section 8 or affordable housing with wheelchair access on the Pleasant Street plot, no higher than the surrounding buildings, and let the luxury hotel go in on the less used and larger South End plot.  There is more room for parking on that lot, traffic would not be seriously affected, and hotel guests could still walk to town.

MBNA's boardwalk is lovely and accessible.  Why give away that portion of the public waterfront?

 



Posted by: deborah R Davis | Feb 24, 2014 07:03

Jim, To your post. Speaking from experience. The Romanians at the two hotels in Camden earn $8.75 hr. They still have to pay rent, eat, and buy at least so personal products. I don't really understand how equal pay for equal work plays into that - I guess it doesn't. The other housekeepers do start at $10 plus tips. Do you have any openings for a front desk position.?



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 24, 2014 05:32

Be careful. With those expensive rooms our great down home Blues Festival may change to the New York Philharmonic. Seriously, appreciated Aryalynn's positve insights into what we already have in our fine city. Whatever develops we have excellent, comfortable and affordable accomodations available for when my friends come to town. It could help our tax base; no doubt of that and certainly appreciate their vision for Rockland's future. Remember when Rockland lost the Samoset to Rockport or Walmart to Thomaston?



Posted by: Aralynn McMane | Feb 23, 2014 21:45

Rockland is graced with beautiful inns. We were very fortunate, in the very short time it took to fall in love with this wonderful city open to the sea, to have stayed in two of them, Limerock and Berry Manor. The Naragansset on Park Street, beautifully restored, serves a new purpose and still delights the eye. With all due respect to the concept presented by Rockland Harbor Park LLC we wonder, what artist in the next few years would set up an easel on a South Side street or the Boardwalk to render one of those facades? The architect strives to meet design standards but the hotel as proposed is simply too big to fit with its surroundings.

render one of those

 

 



Posted by: Frank Brown | Feb 23, 2014 18:37

I would say the most disturbing thing about all these comments is there is so much push back from the community. We have a man trying to open and run a business in our town and he is met with resistance. There are enough obstacles running a business in our area, state and country as it is i.e. high taxes, insurance costs and regulations. Who would argue against someone starting a multi-million dollar construction project? Who would argue with someone building a beautiful hotel to bring people to Rockland? Like it or not, walk down main street and pick a store that doesn't rely on tourism. This hotel will only help the town. What does it matter who is going to stay there or if someone is rich or poor, this project is going to bring jobs to the area.

 



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Feb 23, 2014 17:11

To those of you who are complaining of  international, cheap labor....Why don't you start by bitching to our State governement on how easy it is to get welfare and stay on it!!!!!!  ENOUGH SAID!!!!

 



Posted by: Jim Gamage | Feb 23, 2014 16:24

Helen,

to your post regarding wages I have to push back.  Speaking from facts and experience, the wages we start employees in the hotel housekeeping positions start at $10/hr.

Deborah,

to your post regarding international labor.  Again speaking from experience, they are a very much needed workforce for several seasonal businesses.  We are always in need for housekeepers every year and cannot find enough help.  They start at $10/hr.  the problem is that the work ethic is diminishing, it's too easy to stay unemployed, keep receiving extensions, receive EBT cards and not have to work, thus creating a need for temporary labor during the busy season.

 



Posted by: Steve Dugan | Feb 23, 2014 14:37

You know the old saying, you can't stop progress. But Rockland has been doing a great job for about 200 years.



Posted by: deborah R Davis | Feb 23, 2014 14:25

Thanks Helen for speaking to the wages made by hotel workers. Most of them - with the exception of management qualify for welfare and are on it.  Benefits are slim to none. The workers from Romania are some of the hardest workers I have ever seen. They will work two to three jobs if they can find them. They don't spend their hard earn money here in Maine except for the bare items they need. Their goal is to take it all back home. To me watching this all play out this summer made me think of slave labor . Something is very wrong with the international program that allows these kids to work 16- 18 hrs. a day.

 



Posted by: RUTH ROWLING MAXFIELD | Feb 23, 2014 13:32

What a quandry!   Those wanting it to "stay the same" amuse me.  Do they wish to buy the land and take on the tax obligations to keep it as is?  Personally I am thrilled by the access to the Boardwalk . . thrilled that MBNA built it . . thrilled to see so many people, locals and tourists alike, using it.  On another point . . . . foreign help in the heart of the tourist season:  many of our best places could not operate without them!  Hint:  way too many Americans would rather have noooooo work than hard work!  We are "entitled" these days.  So sad.  I don't know the best answer . . but jiggered if I can see why not allow the hotel on the waterfront!



Posted by: Helen H Silk | Feb 23, 2014 13:16

I can see the need for a decent hotel in Rockland.  Right now the only good regular hotel option is the Hampton Inn in Thomaston.  That said, the posters who talk about job creation must have never worked at a hotel.  I have and I can assure you that the pay scale is abysmal.



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Feb 23, 2014 12:21

The developers of the 65 room hotel are having a public meeting Wednesday 26, 5:30 PM at the former Amalfi's. Regardless of which side of the issue people are; this is the time to participate in deciding the future of OUR town.



Posted by: Jim Gamage | Feb 23, 2014 11:59

To save myself the time and aggravation I will just respond to David's 6 bullet points by simply stating "some things are better off unsaid and we can agree to strongly disagree".  Have a great day and good luck in your endeavor.



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Feb 23, 2014 10:03

1] Not here to defend the Liberty's hotels. Sure; wish the renovations were done a little faster.

2] I you want to assist the needing people in your community; do it anonymously. Just a hint . . .

3] I am not ready to give up on our working waterfront. Not in great shape, but it could and should be "revived."

4] There seems to be some agreement amongst some Rocklanders [the 99%] that our downtown has become an alien place for us locals.

5] Sure; let us bring decent-paying jobs to Rockland. Remember that we still have an industrial park. Would love to see goods shipped in a can/box stamped "Made in Rockland, Maine"

6] A "service" community will eventually become a "servile" society. We need processing/manufacturing jobs. Not funny when Apple and other corporations try to bamboozle us with their stuff "Made in China" but "Designed in USA" . . .

 



Posted by: Jim Gamage | Feb 23, 2014 09:10

Yes, The Liberty's have been very generous and have done so much for this community and I would just like to say thank your for that.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Feb 23, 2014 08:35

The corner property on Pleasant Street has been an eyesore for a few years.  There is no parking. I say, grass it over.  There is not anything that can be built there that will not require parking.  It's a bad place for any business.

David, Rockland's working waterfront has long since gone.  It is not coming back.  Time to move forward and get this city going in the direction of employment.  Everyone wonders why many of us shop at the box stores.  Take a look at Main Street here in Rockland.  It is all geared towards tourists.  Many of those business are non profit.  Main Street is a burden for the tax payers of Rockland.  So, the question is, if there is land available in Rockland that can be developed into a tax paying business with employment available, how can anyone find fault with that?  We are turning into a Camden.  But at least Camden has Reny's, Boynton & Mckay, and other small businesses that pay taxes.  Rockland needs to rethink the plan of bringing in tourists and start thinking about the tax payers!!!



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 23, 2014 07:31

After all the Libertys have done for the City of Rockland find it disturbing to see them attacked so viciously.  They have quietly helped many during the tough winters.  It sounds like the 1% would love to push us old timers off the cliff. That is sad. :(



Posted by: Clifton Yattaw, Jr | Feb 23, 2014 07:23

Are you kidding David; Rockland hasn't been a working town for decades. It'e turned into a welfare and fine arts town with nothing in between.

 



Posted by: Lynne A Barnard | Feb 23, 2014 06:30

Stuart Smith has scheduled a meeting with "neighbors and interested community members" Wednesday, February 26 at 5:30 at the former Amalfi restaurant in the Boston Financial building. Presumably parking will be available in the lot at the south end of the building between the defunct restaurant and Archer's on the Pier.  Mr. Smith will address questions and concerns.  Please plan to attend.  Its your chance to be heard. 



Posted by: Michael P Spear | Feb 23, 2014 01:01

Are you kidding me??? A seafood processing plant----what a blast from the past---do people really want to go back to  "Camden by the sea and Rockland by the smell"??? I doubt it!!!



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Feb 22, 2014 19:52

Fighting for Rockland's soul . . . .

The core issue is not about two new hotels but about the soul of our town. Does Rockland belongs to the 1% or to the 99%? We do not want, or need,  to be Rockport or Camden. We are a working-waterfront blue-collar town and am sure most of us Rocklanders would like to keep it this way.

You can build two hotels and serve the rich and famous [and employ cheap labor from Romania] or you can make money and help Rockland by building a seafood-processing plant and employ local people.

We are a the tipping point of going back to the "Good Ol' Days" of the Samoset and be servants to the rich or we can bring real progress to this town by creating real jobs for the local people . . .

A discussion for another day would be the outrageous milking of the tax code by corporative "non-profits." American workers get unemployment benefits and are called takers. Corporations create "non-profits" and are called "job-creators" Talk about the poor subsidizing the rich . . .



Posted by: Mark M Piscitelli | Feb 22, 2014 19:23

rockland needs an upscale hotel.  i live in rockland and would stay at the new hotel in the winter just to see the harbor up close.  the two dilapidated hotels already here need to be razed for peoples' health's sake and to improve the town's appearance.  they are severe eyesores. fm



Posted by: deborah R Davis | Feb 22, 2014 18:19

Hope Rockland will be able to afford the water view hotel room views. In Camden during the summer on Bayview Street you can get a great room with water view for about $450 a night. Check in 3:00 -check out 11:00 a.m.

 



Posted by: deborah R Davis | Feb 22, 2014 18:14

The new hotel on the waterfront will employ at least 30  workers from Romania. They do the same in Camden in their other two hotels - plus their bakery and Fresh. The Rockland hotel is promised to stay open year round. In Camden, Grand Harbor Inn can't fill the 11 rooms they have and closed down for the month of March. 



Posted by: Mark M Piscitelli | Feb 22, 2014 17:17

forget it.we do not deserve to have this.lets not have nice places to stay.love the high taxes



Posted by: Linda Falkenmeyer | Feb 22, 2014 15:52

The one on the waterfront really needs to happen..No one is taking care of the boardwalk or any of the adjacent land.The other is not the best use for the location..Was a bad idea from the beginning..



Posted by: Sandra Miller | Feb 22, 2014 15:38

I congratulate Mr. Smith .. The 2 hotels in Rockland... { Tradewinds and the Navigator are in my opinion the bottom of the barrel} I have stayed in them a couple of times and would never do so again..The design looks wonderful and it will  help all the businesses in Rockland.. Stores, resturants, marinas, museums etc.. And as stated in a previous comment ..more money for the town.. Times change and so does every towns  appearance.. let it be a great and profitable venture for all of Rockland



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Feb 22, 2014 15:05

Rockland needs more tax paying businesses to oversee the non profit's that have overtaken this city.  I wish Sam and everyone the best in their endeavor.  If you haven't, take a look at the hotel out in CA that they are going by with the design of this hotel.  It has character.  Something that Rockland is in dire need of.  That and employment.  In case no one has noticed in the past decade, Rockland is a non profit city.  We loose thousands of tax dollars a year because prime real estate, or any real estate, for that matter, is used as non profit. I think it is a wonderful idea for a hotel and will bring in business to the south end.  Since MBNA screwed us, some of us new that was gonna happened before the ink was dry on the deed, we here at the south end have gone quite.  The south end needs a kick in the butt to let everyone know that it is not the dump that it was known for years ago.  GOOD LUCK, Mr. Smith!!! You have my backing 110%!!!

 



Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Feb 22, 2014 12:09

Rockland should only allow one of the hotels to be built and that is the one planned for the Rockland waterfront.  The other hotel planned by the boat builder [I am sorry I forgot  his name] has been a disaster from day one and I will never understand why the City of Rockland approved the plans because they should have known there was going to be a problem with parking whether it be condos or a hotel.  The boat builder who came up with the crazy idea should stick to building boats. The corner where the condos were supposed to built is an EYE SORE and everything there should be removed.  Personally I believe a single family home with a garage located above ground but under the house should be built there with some beautiful landscaping around the home.



Posted by: glen r thompson | Feb 22, 2014 12:08

My these "man-on-the-street" responses certainly reveals a lot about the general thinking of mid-coast Maine:  stay poor, stay backward and keep those government subsidies a rolling.  Sad, sadder, saddest.



Posted by: troy a goodnow | Feb 22, 2014 10:58

Whenever I visited Rockland I was always ticked because there ISN'T a good hotel in the rockland area....period.



Posted by: troy a goodnow | Feb 22, 2014 10:58

Whenever I visited Rockland I was always ticked because there ISN'T a good hotel in the rockland area....period.



Posted by: Clifton Yattaw, Jr | Feb 22, 2014 10:19

Rockland don't want hotels in, goodness that might create a real job or two;How about some more subsidized government housing there's a lot more room for those.

 



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Beth Birmingham
Staff Reporter
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Beth rejoined Courier Publications' news staff in February 2013. She previously worked at The Courier-Gazette from 1981 to 1990.

Her coverage area includes Warren, Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Washington, and Thomaston and RSU40.

Beth has a passion for photography, and a degree from the University of Maine at Augusta, in affiliation with the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport.

Aside from photography, Beth enjoys running and walks along the waterfront, as well as other outdoor activities. She has a daughter, Claire, who is 13.

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