The City Council and community will have a say in the proposal to expand a marina and in the long-range plan to overhaul Rockland's waterfront facilities, city and Yachting Solutions Inc. officials said.

A Wednesday night, Feb. 14, City Council meeting to formally present the Yachting Solutions proposal attracted 100 people. The overwhelming number of speakers voiced concerns about the project.

But Yachting Solutions founder and Chief Executive Officer Bill Morong said that nothing was set in concrete and that the project was a concept.

"At this point, they're only lines on paper," Morong said of the plans.

Morong, engineer Michael Sabatini, and Harbormaster Matt Ripley discussed the genesis of the expansion project and talks about potential long-term changes on the waterfront.

Concerns voiced by citizens included loss of access to part of the harbor, the possible loss of the southern channel, and the impact on the view from the public landing.

Rockland City Attorney Mary Costigan said agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and Bureau of Parks and Lands would take navigation issues into account when applications were submitted.

The first phase of the marina expansion includes added floats and pilings along the property owned by Rockland Harbor Park Inc.

That part of the project had received state, federal and local approval in 2008, but the approvals have since expired without the work being done.

Last year, Yachting Solutions applied and received a federal grant to help pay for the first phase of the expansion.

Morong said Stuart Smith, a partner in Rockland Harbor Park, which owns the property where Yachting Solution leases, approached him about trying to work with the city on plans it had developed for possible revamping of its harborfront facilities.

Rockland Mayor Valli Geiger said the city knew nothing of the grant until the company received it in November. That is when the company approached the city to discuss potential cooperation on other harbor improvements.

The plan was presented to the Harbor Management Commission in November.

Yachting Solutions received a federal Boating Infrastructure Grant in July. City Manager Tom Luttrell said Thursday that city officials were contacted in October or early November about the grant.

The possible long-term plan calls for wave breakers that would offer protection for that section of the harbor. The wave breakers, however, would bisect the southern channel — a move that is strongly opposed by many residents and boat owners.

Another part of the plan would be to relocate the harbormaster's building to Buoy Park. Ripley said for the building to be out of the floodplain it needs to be moved back at least 14 feet and raised three to four feet. Moving the building would allow the city to perform earthwork leading up to the public landing to eliminate a steep incline.

The boardwalk would be extended from next to the current location of the harbormaster's building to past the middle pier.

Ripley said there is considerable work needed on the city facilities, such as the bridge that goes from Harbor Park to the float. He said the city is more likely to get grants if it works with private partners.

Sabatini said moving the dinghy dock to the north side of the middle pier would address the problem of lack of access for boaters during events such as the Maine Lobster Festival; North Atlantic Blues Festival and Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors show.

Morong repeatedly stressed that the meeting was held to gather comments from the public.

Sabatini made reference to that.

"We've heard loud and clear that you don't want this to affect the south channel. How can we work around this?" Sabatini said.

Morong said the project would benefit marine businesses in the community by bringing in large yachts that would require services. He made reference to the city seal, which includes the motto "God gives a reward to industry."

City Manager Tom Luttrell said the plan could allow the city to increase the number of slips at the public landing and generate more revenues. He also cited the benefit of extending the boardwalk. He said Rockland Harbor Park is also willing to cut back shrubs that some neighbors have said block their views of the harbor.

Luttrell has previously stressed that no work on city facilities would occur unless the city obtained grants.

The city had Rockport Planning Board Chair John Alexander serve as facilitator for the latter part of the meeting. He wrote down questions posed by the public and said city officials and company officials would answer those questions.

Luttrell said other meetings would be held at which the questions would be answered.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, however, concern and opposition were voiced about parts of the plan.

Steve Hale, owner and operator of the Captain Jack touring lobster boat, said the plan was privatizing that part of the harbor.

Joseph Steinberger, a former city councilor, said this was a threat to the character of the community. He said the City Council had a voice in the matter, because the federal government will not go along with the elimination of a channel if the city opposes it.

The wave breakers would also result in the relocation of numerous moorings.

Debbie Atwell said the proposal was a greater threat to the harbor than the proposals years ago by the Samoset Resort to build a marina alongside the Rockland Breakwater.

The Maine DEP rejected the Samoset's proposed pier, citing the impact on scenic and aesthetic uses.

A citizens group had petitions at the meeting to be presented to the city council, state and federal agencies to oppose what it maintains is an unreasonable development. People can contact petitioners by mailing to SHIP (Sensible Harbor Infrastructure Plan), 7 Laurel St, Rockland, Maine.

No date has been scheduled for the next meeting on the subject.