The town is planning a public workshop at the end of May to gather public ideas regarding what should be done with the 7.67-acre parcel of land that was previously the site of Rockport Elementary School.

The RES Committee met Wednesday, April 17, in the Richardson Room of the Rockport Town Office to begin strategizing how to proceed. The parcel currently consists of a field that is occasionally used for baseball and soccer and a collection of concrete slabs where the school previously stood. There is a line of conifer trees separating the field and the slabs.

The next step, pending approval by the Select Board, is a workshop in late May in the upstairs of the Rockport Opera House. The stated purpose of the workshop is to "better understand the public needs and wishes … as the town explores the development possibilities."

Members of the RES Committee stressed the importance of having as much participation as possible from the public and members of various town committees.

The general idea for the workshop is to split up into several design groups and have each group work together to brainstorm features and qualities they view as important for the future development. The groups will then present to the workshop as a whole and common elements will be identified.

There will be large drawings of the parcel for groups to experiment with and scaled paper cutouts to represent buildings, cars and possible design elements to provide assistance and perspective on potential ideas.

Although the workshop is intended to be relatively open-ended, the committee has established four principles of development that it would like to guide the process. According to a draft of the workshop agenda, the project must "make a significant contribution to Rockport's tax base," be aesthetically pleasing and maintain green space that is accessible to residents. Lastly, the project must include residents as "active partner(s) in development" to ensure that the final decision is not merely based on financial considerations, but reflects the visions and wishes of the town.

The property, which has seen little use since RES was torn down in 2013, was considered as a possible location for the new Rockport Public Library before the decision was made in 2017 to rebuild it in the existing downtown location.