Committees are to advise the council, not scold it

Dec 12, 2019

We think the chair of the Harbor Management Commission was too hard on the City Council this week, scolding it about a plan to bring in tall ships to celebrate the state’s bicentennial.

Louise MacLellan-Ruf, chair of the Harbor Management Commission, said the failure of the City Council to have the proposed tall ship project reviewed by the Commission was disrespectful. She also argued the city committees are there to provide checks and balances to the council’s power.

Her criticism was unnecessarily harsh and over the top. This kind of thing breeds division in the city, and we need to be finding common ground instead.

The plan is to have tall ships visit Rockland next summer as part of Maine's bicentennial celebration, no final contract has been signed, and the Commission was briefed earlier this year.

The celebration of the birth of Maine two centuries ago in 1820 will only come along once, and it makes sense, as part of our seafaring heritage, to use our harbor to celebrate it.

Unlike the members of the Harbor Management Commission, we elected the members of the City Council to run this city. The commission has no authority to provide any checks or balances. It is an advisory organization only, and so far, the only disrespect we have seen has gone from this commission to the council.

In addition, the time is coming pretty soon to understand that Rockland Harbor belongs to the entire city and is there to be used as an economic tool as well as a quaint, scenic backdrop. The tall ships plan will draw visitors to the area, and they will likely shop at our revitalized downtown, bringing the community an economic boost. The Viking ship that visited Rockland Harbor in 2018 drew numerous visitors and attracted much interest.

Arguments against use of the harbor for festivals, cruise ship visits and now tall ship visits have mostly been nonsense. These visits do bring customers downtown and they are good for local business. Most of these arguments have been motivated from personal agendas rather than concern for the community economically as a whole.

In any case, it would be perfectly fine for the commission to voice its disagreement with the plan, but we would encourage the commission to strike a respectful tone rather than creating controversy with no provocation. Like the commission members, the councilors are essentially community volunteers.

In addition, the council should not allow itself to be cowed by its advisory committees. It should not have put off voting on this plan.

Tower does not match character of Rockland

The proposed 120-foot cell tower on Camden Street would be located too close to a residential neighborhood and does not match the character of our city.

Perhaps more creative solutions could be found to boost cell signals including locating cellular transmission technology on the tops of existing building such as the Breakwater Marketplace, or some of the downtown structures.

The proposal by Bay Communications III is to erect the monopole-style tower at 182 Camden St., south of Pizza Hut. The plan calls for a 6-foot chain-link fence with barbed wire around the base of the tower, which would sit on a 50-by-50-foot clean stone tower pad.

The Rockland Planning Board will hold a hearing on the proposal in January. It is important to understand that the board can only approve or reject a project based on what is written in the city ordinances. It will not be able to base its decisions on any personal feelings of the board members.

Perhaps, however, the board and city officials could work with the developer to find a creative solution that would better fit the community and improve relations with those living nearby.

Residents in the area should be sure to attend the meetings and let their voices be heard about the project.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Dec 13, 2019 10:29

Perhaps my eyesight is not that good, but where does it say who wrote these opinions ?  Re: the scolding of the council, I would draw your attention to the comment I recently made of the story Steve Betts wrote today on this matter.  My opinion is that Louise was not scolding the Council rather pointing out that our local committees also deserve respect.  The council is quick to appoint committees then often ignore their findings. As we are currently experiencing a lack of willing participants on many committees, this would leed me to believe it is because these volunteers feel their time is being wasted.  Respect & communication goes both ways.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Dec 12, 2019 10:44

Kudos in support of the city council.  May not always agree with them, yet appreciate the positive interaction as decisions are made. It is refreshing and rare these days.

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