According to an Aug. 8 news release, Rockland’s Parks Commission is seeking public input on the design for the renewal of the Rockland Community and School Improvement Association Park on Broadway at the corner of Gay Street. Newly appointed Commissioner Joe Steinberger said, “This is a great opportunity for us to carry forward the work of the community-minded citizens' group that 85 years ago gave the land to the city to be a children’s park.”

That 1931 deed stipulates that “the park should be perpetually dedicated to the boys and girls of Rockland.” The deed permitted the construction of a school, and in 1953 the city gave the land to the school district to build an elementary school, known first as the North School and later as MacDougal School. In 2010 the school district abandoned the building and gave the property back to the city, the release says.

The city has demolished the building and the park is for now a large lawn, which is being maintained by the Public Services Department. At more than 5 acres, it is the second-largest park in Rockland, after Snow Marine Park on the city's southern border.

A strong advocate of the park renewal project is Rockland Wastewater Manager Terry Pinto, the release says. He said the park’s central location puts it within walking distance of 80 percent of Rockland families.

Another advocate for the park is Rockland resident Kyle Swan, a former member of the Planning Board. The release quotes Swan saying he envisions the park as the beginning of a nature walk that would allow city residents to walk all the way to the Oyster River Bog and the Rockland Forest, traversing Dodge’s Mountain, with great views over the city, a total distance of more than two miles, almost all over public lands. “This would be a fabulous asset for Rockland,” Swan said, “and would cost us almost nothing.”

“Good public facilities are the key to a successful city,” Steinberger said, “and providing healthy recreational facilities for our children is the first order of business.”

Many ideas have been put forward for the park, according to the commission. They include community garden space for families, a petting zoo with goats, sheep, etc., informal playing fields, a jungle gym and other playground equipment, and a family-friendly nature area with shade trees, a walking path, and picnic tables.

The commission is also seeking suggestions for a shorter name for the park.”'Rockland Community and School Improvement Association Park' does not exactly roll off the tongue,” said Commissioner Mike Thibodeau. The commission hopes to find a shorter name that continues to honor the park’s citizen founders.

The Parks Commission invites interested persons to submit their ideas for the park, either by mail to The Rockland Parks Commission, City Hall, 270 Pleasant St., Rockland, ME 04841; or by email or phone to Joe Steinberger: joe@interhuman.org, 596-0731.