ROCKPORT — Longtime construction company owner Allen Mitchell went before the RES Redevelopment Task Force June 24 to explain his Almar Inc. proposal for the site.

Mitchell’s Almar Inc. proposal is one of several responses received by the town’s invitation to submit a letter of interest.

Mitchell has owned McCormick & Associates builders for over 35 years. The company built the Riverhouse Hotel in Camden, the retirement cottages at Quarry Hill and has just finished the new facility for Coastal Opportunities in Rockland.

McCormick is well-known for residential properties as well. One of their oceanfront homes in Rockport was chosen as the Home and Garden TV giveaway in 2001.

Mitchell was chairman of the building committee when the Rockport Town Office and public works buildings were constructed.

He told members of the task force that his company used to do repairs and renovations at the former Rockport Elementary School.

His proposal centers around maintaining the ballfield for kids on the property, which he sees as an enhancement to the town. To fulfill a Select Board-approved requirement for the project, that it produce financial benefits to the town, he proposes to build five one-floor retirement homes towards the back of the rectangular lot. The $350,000 homes situated on 100- by 150-foot lots will contribute to the property tax base. That income will also help pay for maintenance of the ballfield, he said.

Mitchell’s plan includes a parking lot with up to 36 spaces for the ballfield and recreation area, to keep parking off West Street, as well as aesthetic improvements to the ballfield and property. There will be an attractive fence and landscaping between the ballfield and the homes, he said.

He is not in favor of seeing commercial buildings when you come into town, he said.

Chairwoman of the Redevelopment Task Force Amanda Dwelley reviewed the Select Board-approved five-point vision statement for the property earlier in the meeting.

The five points are, the project must make a significant contribution to Rockport’s tax base; be aesthetically pleasing and attractive as it welcomes both residents and tourists to the central portion of the town, particularly those arriving via Route 90 corridor; green space must be maintained and incorporated in the project so it is accessible for all town residents to enjoy; and the town must be an active partner in the development of the property so that decisions are not solely economic-based but also based on shared values and vision for the property of all the town’s citizens.

Dwelley emphasized there would be a lot of public engagement involved to seek public opinion on any project recommended by the Task Force, which is part of the town’s Economic Development Committee.

Select Board member Eric Boucher who is now liaison to the task force reviewed the process going forward. The plan is for the Redevelopment Committee to make a recommendation on the developer for the site. This would go to the Select Board. The board can decide whether to go forward with the recommendation and seek more input from the public, or it could reject the task force recommendation.

There will likely be zoning changes needed after a project is chosen, Boucher indicated. The town has a zoning committee that will work on any needed changes, he said. A project would go to a public vote, possibly in June or November 2022.

Dwelley said that is the task force’s most optimistic and aggressive timeline, but probably does not account for all the public engagement that will need to happen.

The task force is aware of the weight and importance of a town vote and have seen projects like this not succeed, where there wasn’t enough engagement and buy-in along the way, she said.

Dwelley indicated she appreciated getting a specific plan from Mitchell, but said the town was requesting letters of interest and not a concept plan with the level of detail he provided.

There was thinking that some of the concept would be developed as part of public engagement and working with the Select Board on a site plan that meets a lot of the principles and vision, she said.

She asked Mitchell how he would fulfill the vision of the property as a gateway to the town for residents and visitors who do not have children involved in youth sports. Mitchell suggested a walking track around the property to draw the public to use the site.

He emphasized that he sees the town has a gateway right now with the ballfield.

Task force member Mary Steven mentioned tying the RES property to the downtown area with some architectural element as well as using the property to pick up some tourist dollars with some retail. She asks if Mitchell has experience managing that type of project.

Mitchell responded that he has a fair amount of that type of experience through 10 years of construction management and 35 years with McCormick, with multiple types of projects.

“What is existing is more of a plus than anything else,” he said. He is not in favor of retail at that site. Staying with the outdoor movie theater concept, while making it more attractive would be a better option than retail, he said.

Dwelley asked Mitchell if he would be interested in working with the town if the site turned into a larger project, or commercial buildings that aligns with the vision of mixed use or a welcome center, or other buildings.

He said he would be interested in working with the town.

“I’ve been involved with the town for many years.” He added that he was chairman of the building committee when the town put $1 million into the Rockport Opera House, where the task force meeting was held.

Stevens asked Mitchell if he would be involved in a community or public information campaign to help people understand the project, if needed. Mitchell replied he could be involved in that.

Wrapping up the meeting, Dwelley commented that the task force is in the beginning stages. The members would concur that processes take a while and we’re going to get other voices to the table, she said.

Brian Dancause, Rockport economic development specialist, asked Mitchell to clarify if his plan is for the town to retain the ball fields and whether the houses would be sold as individual properties. Mitchell replied in the affirmative to both questions.