Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor Feb. 04

Feb 05, 2021

About the Council's Main Street plan

By many accounts, limiting traffic to one lane on Main Street was a disaster last summer, but that hasn’t stopped the powers that be from pushing this on the public again this summer.

While many of us shook our heads and made our comments online, in the end, the jersey barriers stayed and seemingly overnight, our DPW turned one of our state’s most recognized downtowns into a construction zone.

Okay pandemic times, we can stand to be a bit creative. However, limited traffic on Main Street for a few restaurants, a few hours a day, for the summer going forward should only come with a strong community mandate.

To be sure there are people pushing for one lane traffic, they just don’t like Rockland’s one way traffic pattern that loops downtown with Main Park and Union Street’s, the rotary if you will. They would rather see two-way traffic you see in places Camden, Damariscotta and Wiscasset.

No thank you. Some would rather have the angled parking like we see in Thomaston. No thank you; backing into traffic is never a good idea. Perhaps the two-lane traffic is what helps makes Rockland a little different, and adds character to the city other communities don’t have. I think it acts like a landing place, more than just a town to pass through.

Rockland Main Street is and should be more than a 100 day summer, open air food court. While we have a nice array of eateries now, do we want to reconstruct our main commercial thoroughfare to cater to this industry? It wasn’t that long ago we had a more dynamic downtown, including future and appliance stores in some of these same storefronts.

While it is hot right now to have a downtown eatery, is this always going to be the case? Would it not be more appropriate to envision a more diverse, year-round commerce and ask the question how would limiting vehicular traffic, delivery zones and parking on Main St effect such prospects?

In a pinch, it sure would be nice to be able to buy a decent pair of shoes or sport coat year-round downtown again, never mind maybe a musical instrument or a decent paring knife.

There are far too many long-term questions to be asked and answered by the Department of Transportation and others, before the city invests more money in a downtown traffic redesign. A couple of Zoom discussions, when many of us are still at work, fall short of that parameter.

Imagine after last year’s mess, then add 70% more traffic, as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, many businesses need a bounce back, not a traffic mess that keeps people away.

There are more stakeholders here than just a few downtown merchants and restaurants. The people who live on Broadway can surely look forward to the turbo-diesels letting it rip, trying to get to Home Depot or McDonalds from up the peninsula, coming up from Route 73. Maybe they will just take their dollars to Thomaston, further impacting Camden Street commerce.

I ask the city manager and council, please don’t destroy our traffic patterns for summer people to sip lattes and cocktails in our parking spaces.

James York

Rockland

Re: the Jan. 25 A.D. Gray article

In a recent article from Jan. 25, it was stated the town of Waldoboro is moving forward with Volunteers of America with their plan to bring low-income senior housing to Waldoboro. However, in truth, this matter has not yet been decided.

For those unfamiliar with this plan, the Waldoboro Select Board is considering selling the A.D. Gray building, which has been vacant for a decade, to Volunteers of America for one dollar.

Unfortunately, most of the Select Board’s early discussions with VOA regarding this proposed plan were unbeknownst to its residents, including those living directly across from, and adjacent to, the A.D. Gray property. Since plans have been made more public, however, a strong contingent of residents are asking town leaders to consider other options for the property, preferably a town park.

Though residents did vote in favor of the sale of the building to VOA, at the time of the November vote, no other options were given. The article also stated that the town manager’s major concern would be the cost of maintaining the park, and a potential for loitering.

However, the maintenance of a town park will cost the town a lot less than the maintenance, and construction, of a proposed plan for a recreation center. And the park, if used properly, will provide income to the town that will pay for its own maintenance. And loitering is not a problem unique to parks.

In the same article, a Select Board member made reference to a number of Waldoboro parks not currently being maintained. Where are these parks? And if they are not being maintained, why is that? If it is because the town does not have money to maintain them, how can we afford to give valuable land away? This issue is much more complicated than just filling a need for affordable senior housing.

Most of us would not deny that such a need exists, but this town, by their own admission, has difficulty providing services for its current residents. If Waldoboro does indeed move forward with Volunteers of America, this project would be the fifth low-income development within one-half mile of downtown. Most of those familiar with downtown Waldoboro know businesses don’t often last. More low-income housing would not remedy that.

A park, on the other, would enhance the downtown area by attracting visitors, as well as businesses, and serve to increase the local tax base by raising property values. It would also promote health and be a source of much needed town pride.

As I said, this matter is a complicated one. And people who truly care about the future of this town should not take it lightly.

Daniel Martone

Waldoboro

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