Addressing short-term rentals in Rockport

I would like to address the proposals by the Ordinance Review Committee, the Select Board, and the Town Manager of Rockport to pass an ordinance restricting the presence of short term rentals, particularly in Rockport Village. This proposal will appear on a public ballot Nov. 3.

Information about this proposal used to be on the town website. However a recent search there under “rentals” and “short term rentals” yielded no results.

From an historical perspective, Camden and Rockport have hosted summer visitors as far back as the 1930s. In more recent decades, we have housed Maine Media Workshop students, attendees of the Pop Tech Conference, the Camden conference and so many more. Short term rentals are part of the fabric of our community and are a welcomed and gratitude-worthy aspect of our towns.

As pointed out by Louis Bettcher in the Penobscot Bay Pilot Feb. 11, “The summary of the public forum on the town of Rockport website does not mention the positive aspects of short term rentals that were shared at a public forum Sep. 25, 2019.” Indeed at this point I find no mention at all.

On March 7, 2019, the Ordinance Review Committee agreed “it would be best to prohibit non-owner occupied rentals under a certain number of days.” On March 14, they decided that a public workshop should be held to allow residents to participate in the discussion. So on Sep. 23, 2019, Rockport residents shared pros and cons of short term rentals with the Rockport Select Board and the Town Manager at a workshop. In the reports of this workshop that used to be on the town website and Facebook, the pros seem to have been omitted. The many, many positives about short term rentals in Rockport were voiced by residents at that workshop.

They are part of our history, they are part of our tradition, they assist residents as they struggle to pay Rockport real estate taxes, they provide us with opportunities to meet wonderful people from all over the world, they inspire us to keep our homes and landscapes in top condition, and so much more.

I’d like to briefly address the cons. We must understand that the improvement of any residence on our street from dilapidated shack to beautiful building is a bonus for both abutting property owners and the town itself. Comings and goings at neighboring properties are part of life unless one lives on a cul-de-sac or dead end street. The level of our interactions with any neighbor is a 50/50 transaction with equal responsibility on both sides. Lastly we all know that Rockport is both a wonderful place to visit and a place to live year-round.

Let’s put aside the us/them view of the world and think in terms of “we.” Rewards like the new library will fall upon us all!

Vic and Marsha Steinglass


“Wash your hands!”

Your mother said it, and now the Centers for Disease Control says it: thoroughly washing your hands frequently is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

So how does something so cheap and readily available work to keep the virus at bay?

It has to do with the shape of a soap molecule, which is somewhat like a pin. The head of the pin is chemically attracted to water molecules; the tail of the pin does not like water but is attracted to oils and fats. A single soap molecule suspended in water bobs about until it links up with other soap molecules, forming little bubbles with all the water-loving heads pointing outward and the water-phobic tails pointing inward.

Some bacteria and viruses, like COVID-19, hepatitis B and C and herpes have lipid membranes. Lipid is another word for “fatty.”

When you wash your hands, the water-phobic tails of the soap molecules try to get away from the water molecules. As they do so, they wedge themselves into the lipid membranes of viruses and bacteria, basically breaking them apart. Soap also breaks the bonds that keep grime and germs attached to your skin. Bubbles of soap molecules will surround and trap all these broken bits, which then are washed away when you rinse your hands.

Hand sanitizers with at least 60% ethanol act similarly, destroying bacteria and viruses by destabilizing their lipid membranes. But they are not as effective at getting grime and germs off the skin.

Some bacteria and viruses put up a good fight even against soap. Certain viruses don’t have lipid membranes; some bacteria, like those that cause meningitis, pneumonia, and diarrhea, have shells made up of protein and sugar. “But vigorous scrubbing with soap and water can still expunge these microbes from the skin, which is partly why hand-washing is more effective than sanitizer,” according to a recent article in the New York Times.

A quick swipe of soap against your hands doesn’t do the trick, however. You’ve got to work up a good lather and scrub both sides of your hands and nails for at least 20 seconds.

But hey! it’s simple, it’s cheap, it’s part of every household. It’s soap and it’s the new superhero in the fight against COVID-19.

Melissa Waterman


Remember the heroes giving us food

Finally, in the last few days there is more media talk of the importance and need for recognition of the true unsung heroes of this era: the food service employees.

We all acknowledge the medics, first responders, police, etc. for their front line heroism/efforts, and deservedly so.

But the employees of the supermarkets, pharmacies and more probably, on personal average, spend the most time with face-to-face contact with a number of people. They do this with low pay and little — if any — protective gear.

It is difficult to think about the results if nobody was working these outlets. Imagine rioting, chaos, just mass destruction as people would not be able to get food. Yes, they would probably be replaced with the National Guard or federal troops eventually, but that is a dystopian picture/nightmare.

These workers continue to work under these current conditions, even though they are not under any direct order to do so. So every time you are at the checkout register, let's all at least say "Thank You."

It's the very least we can do. I would suggest tipping but that is another story.

Mark Rader