Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor March 11

Mar 12, 2021

Let us help those in need of toiletries

In the toilet paper aisle, I watched while people unhesitatingly retrieved their brand. Alongside these shoppers was an elderly gentleman counting the coins he searched each pocket for. He stood there gazing a long time and picked up a single roll. All he could afford was that one roll, the most expensive way to buy toilet paper.

These are the choices some of our neighbors must make. In Rockland, 13% of folks 65 or older are living in poverty. SNAP (food stamps) benefits for elderly living under the poverty line averages $112 monthly. Our gentleman friend is not allowed to purchase toilet paper with his SNAP EBT card.

A resolution has been introduced in the Maine state legislature asking to allow toilet paper pads, tampons and soap to be purchased with SNAP. The resolution is addressed to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service which administers SNAP.

Passing Resolution LR855 means the President, Maine’s congressional delegation and others in power will receive notification that Mainers are demanding changes, which will allow essential grooming necessities purchasable with SNAP. New Jersey and Illinois have introduced similar resolutions. Other states are urged to join, and our power will grow.

A local mom confessed that with five menstruators in her household, she frequently makes difficult choices between period products and food. She should be able to purchase pads and tampons with SNAP. Being able to purchase the period products most appropriate for your needs — whether you are a 10-year-old new menstruator or a 54-year-old approaching menopause — is a right all menstruators should have.

You can advocate for Mainers and Americans struggling to afford pads, tampons, toilet paper and soap by contacting your local senator or representative and requesting they support LR855.

Sharon Hobson

Rockland

On the 'non binding' topic

Excellent editorial on so-called "non-binding" referenda.

"There there's no such thing as a non-binding vote," you wrote.

Thanks a lot for stealing my thunder.

Politicians love to claim a town-wide vote is non-binding "so don't worry about it." As you wrote, if it's non-binding, then why hold the vote? Because either way, the politicians will make it fit their plan.

Ex-Rockland Bureau Chief Ted Cohen

Portland Press Herald

Considerations for the Talbot Ave. request

Habitat for Humanity is requesting another zone change in Rockland. I fully support their mission. This request, however, isn’t their normal project of building homes for people to own. The proposal for 165 Talbot Ave. includes three two and three bedroom duplex rentals and eight very little house rentals.

Looking at the layout of rectangles on paper, you might think everything fits neatly and doesn’t look so bad. However, if you look beyond the map and consider the real impact this plan has, you may change your mind.

Besides concerns about removing a stone wall, likely made over two centuries ago, lowering the sale value of neighboring homes, wet land and water run-off, please consider what you would think if this project was going next to your home.

Most homes in Rockland have one neighbor’s house on each side, and maybe a house in back. In this proposal, the Tillson house will have eight houses on one side and four behind it, two of which are duplexes. I doubt any taxpayer in Rockland would want 14 residences by their side and back yard.

There is a possibility of zero to 14 dogs, up to 22 cars, and 20 to 48 people right beside and behind their house. The impact is huge! It’s too much to go beside anyone’s home, let alone one of the most beautiful, historic houses in the city.

Rockland has the current zoning laws for good reasons. If the city keeps making exceptions, neighborhoods will be changed forever and Rockland will be as crowded as Portland.

Would you like to see little houses throughout the city? Would you want 14 residences on two sides of your home? Please help the owners of the Tillson house by letting our city counselors know your opinion.

Alane Dostie

Rockland

Protect Rockland's Civil War history

I am truly dismayed at Habitat for Humanity’s plan on Talbot Avenue to encroach on the Gen. Davis Tillson home, a nationally significant historic structure in Rockland. The context of Gen. Tillson’s home, located at the base of the hill where thousands of mid-coast Mainers mustered prior to marching off to the Civil War is unique to Rockland. The home is now privately owned and diligently being restored.

There are very few buildings left in Rockland that are of such national significance, and also rise to the level of having their own Wikipedia page at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gen._Davis_Tillson_House.

For comparison, consider the respectful treatment of Gen. Tillson’s barn in Rockport, also a nationally registered historic structure in private ownership. The adjacent Riley School has maintained a respectful distance in the placement of roads and structures, and I suggest that Rockland should follow Rockport's example and not allow roads and structures to encroach on Rockland’s nationally significant Civil War era home.

I realize this is a complex site because of the wetlands, but most evident in the project’s design is that the scope of the applicant’s project is too ambitious for such a complex site adjacent to a nationally significant structure.

The applicant’s project tears apart the fabric of Rockland’s Civil War history by meaninglessly juxtaposing a jumble of “tiny houses” next to Gen. Tillson’s home, which was grand for its era in scale, materials and details.

I am curious why the applicant is not completing the Philbrick Commons project before rushing to obtain approvals for another project? It appears to me that Philbrick Commons is only at 40% completion and if different housing types are needed, such as two or three bedroom homes. Why not modify the Philbrick Commons plans?

Please do not approve this application nor the site plan. Just about everything about it is inappropriate for preserving Rockland’s historic buildings and landscape.

Barbara Mogel

Rockland

Re: Island Road project discussion

Koffel misses the point.

John Koffel’s March 4 letter on the Island Road project misses the purpose of the island Road Project. The project is a safety initiative which was overwhelmingly approved by South Thomaston voters in June 2020.

About three years ago, two violent storms made the access to the bridge to Spruce Head Island dangerous if not impassable. With the specter of emergency vehicles not having access to assist the Island population, the Selectboard and Emergency Management Director focused on addressing the most immediate danger spots and sought and received two grants totaling $340,000 to fund engineering studies and construction.

One grant required a match which consisted of $45,000 from the Paving Reserve $15,000 for the Emergency Management Reserve and $31,000 from appropriation. As best we can tell from the video, these investments were approved by a vote of 75-2 at Town Meeting. I consider this to be a convincing mandate to continue with the project.

A word about our paving practice which has been in effect for many years; we pave in one year, then replenish the reserve the following year. The fund balance is unlikely to exceed its current level as long as this practice continues. As Island Road was scheduled for repaving to begin in 2020, reserve funding would have happened regardless of the road project.

Finally, I want to address a piece of misinformation spread in opposition to the Island Road Project. It has been claimed that the project is responsible for the 10% increase in the Town mil rate in 2020. This is false. The $31,000 raised from property taxes for the project comprised 11 cents of the $15.35/1000 2020 mil rate.

Discussion, debate and disagreement on issues and decisions are valued and encouraged. However, misinformation and failure to understand and acknowledge the objectives of an investment or decision, serve the interests of no one.

Walter Reitz

South Thomaston Selectboard

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