ROCKPORT — A proposal to develop the Rockport Elementary School site to include affordable housing, commercial rental space and a public park was met with resistance during a workshop Monday, July 11, though some town committee members have also acknowledged the strong need in the community for more workforce housing.

The workshop was held with the Select Board and members of the RES Redevelopment Task Force and the town Economic Development Committee. They were considering the options laid out in a recent meeting by NewHeights Group, which has been studying the potential of the property for the town.

Town Manager Jon Duke said those responding to a survey are split into thirds — one third disliking the proposal, one third on the fence and another third supportive. He said that does not give community leaders any specific “North Star” to follow, but he said people seem to agree more information is needed.

Select Board Vice Chair Mark Kelley said he agrees what was presented was “too much,” but he sees that as a look at what the lot could hold at its maximum development. Now the town can refine that vision.

Brian Richards asked when someone had gone to a town and said there was too much green space or too many parks. He said this lot is an opportunity for the community, a legacy. “The current proposal is absolutely terrible,” he said, arguing this kind of development is not appropriate for the gateway to the historic village.

Some residents questioned if the space could be a town park. Select Board members noted there are costs associated with maintaining parks including high landscaping costs. One idea posed was to grow crops there.

Richard Anderson of the Economic Development Committee said he would like to see this process go forward on the basis of numbers, data and economics rather than emotional discussions about what people like. He said local major employers want housing for their workers.

Chair of that committee Dave Pio said the community is facing a lack of labor due to a lack of housing, and development of this property could help with that issue for the region, as well as the town. He said at $300-per-foot for construction, a single-family home with the cost of developing the land on which it sits costs about $800,000, so housing is not affordable. The way around that is to increase housing density and increase the number of units in a development to make it more cost-effective. That would mean changing the town’s zoning and comprehensive plan.

The question is how to balance the need for affordable and workforce housing with the character of the community and the economic pressures on home prices and construction.

A question was also posed about what this development might mean for traffic in the area.

More discussion and study are planned for the RES site.

In other business, three have taken out nomination papers for the Select Board special election on Aug. 30: Dana Jackson, Denise Munger, and Ralph “Doc” Wallace. Papers are due back at the Town Office on or by Friday, July 22. Ralph Wallace and Denise Munger have returned their nomination papers and will be on the ballot.