Snow Marine Park is a local treasure for boat, harbor trail, sports recreation, and dog-walking enthusiasts that can become even more user-friendly with some simple additions, community representatives said June 17.

About 15 community members attended the park community input meeting. They represented the Harbor Trail Committee, Parks Commission, Harbor Management Commission, Rockland Main Street, Inc., and Sail, Power & Steam Museum.

Some suggestions made during a park tour involved an enclosed dog park: natural steps added to a popular hill used for winter sledding, gravel walking trails that would become part of the Harbor Trail, covered picnic areas and grills, more trees, drainage improvements, restrooms, concession stands, and a building that would house sports equipment. Snow Marine Park currently has two soccer fields.

"The children of Rockland descend on that slope when it snows," said Harbor Trail Commission member Peter Richardson. "So it's very important that it be safe."

Meeting facilitator John Holden, the city of Rockland's community development director, emphasized that ideas for park improvement are in an early planning stage and have not been funded. The exception is a $6,000 state Shore and Harbor Planning grant from which Baker Design Consultants of Freeport has designed a new boat ramp.

Dan Bannon, a Baker Design Consultants engineer, said it will cost about $200,000 to build a new boat ramp and launch. For such projects, Maine cities typically seek matching funds from the state Department of Transportation's Small Harbor Improvement Program or SHIP.

"How can we maximize the park's uses while preserving its inherent good qualities?" asked Mitchell Rasor of MRLD Landscape Architecture. That is the main reason for gathering community input, he said.

Joe Auciello, a member of the Harbor Management Commission, said defined spaces for dog walking are needed that would keep dog owners separated from the harbor area including the boat ramp.

"A lot of times, you're backing your trailer down (the boat ramp) and a dog walks up right behind you," Auciello said.

Fellow Harbor Management Commission member Samuel Ladley said drainage issues that inundate portions of the park should be addressed before new additions are approved.

Courier Publications reporter Larry Di Giovanni can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 117, or by email at: ldigiovanni@villagesoup.com.