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Glaser calls for preserving community

By Stephen Betts | Sep 30, 2019

Rockland — Ed Glaser said the greatest challenge facing Rockland is how to stay a community.

"There's an arts community, and a fishing community, and a series of people that identify with a neighborhood or as a community of 'natives,' or people from away. But how do we all fit together to make Rockland thrive? We have all kinds of potential challenges -- not enough housing, an aging population, not enough employees for the available jobs, taxes that drive out anyone trying to live here, people that don't live here full-time buying houses, a changing climate, and the potential for water-level and tide rise that could reshape our waterfront and our industries in the next 50 years," Glaser said.

He is one of four candidates seeking two seats on the City Council in the Nov. 5 election.

Glaser said he is running for reelection because "despite what everyone outside of government thinks, it is great fun. 'Fun' might not be the best word, it is exciting and fulfilling. It's exciting to be in the middle of what's going on in the most vibrant city on the mid-Maine coast. I love talking to everyone and watching as we learn to deal with the same issues that are affecting everyone in Maine -- in ways that best suit Rockland.

"We are seeing the beginning of a more diverse city, economically, culturally, ethnically and socially, and helping to negotiate how we get to the future is thrilling. It is fulfilling, because in the last few years I think we are getting back (on a local level) to the understanding that if we want to build a strong community, we need to listen to each other and act civilly. I think we are getting better at that, and I want to continue to be a part of that.

"And, the answer to all of those challenges will be learning to work as a whole community to deal with them," Glaser said.

The candidate said cruise ships can be good for Rockland's economy, but not so good for the environment.

"They should be a part of the healthy mix that makes up our tourist and our maritime economies. There's nothing wrong with limiting the number that can come to town, if that goes hand in hand with working to attract the ones we want. He said the city should be working on a policy that encourages the best ships and prohibits the worst, using their fees to help build a new public landing that can be enjoyed by everyone.

In regard to short-term rentals, he pointed out that the city has a committee looking at the issue.

"Personally, I like that if someone lives here, they can rent a room to help make ends meet, and that if they go away for a couple of weeks, they can rent their house while they are on vacation. I'm not thrilled that someone can buy a house here and rent it out for short-term rentals in a residential neighborhood. That's really just a lodging business, and should be licensed and regulated as such. Maybe we shouldn't allow shorter than weeklong home rentals, leaving most shorter stays to our hotels, inns and bed-and- breakfasts," Glaser said.

Rockland needs more housing, Glaser said. "One way is to open up a few more attractive pieces of property to development, and thoughtfully changing some setbacks, etc may help. Again, avoiding sweeping changes, and doing it in smaller, more targeted ways may help," Glaser said.

He said the other, less-talked-about part of changing city ordinances is for the housing already in place. "In many cases, our housing stock doesn't meet the rules, and so no changes are allowed. Changing some of the setbacks and lot sizes will allow people to improve their houses, thereby increasing their property's value, and that of the whole neighborhood," he said.

There are also other ways to address the housing shortage, he said, such as developing the upper floors of downtown buildings, finding lots that the city owns and doing the groundwork for new houses, continuing to work to get dilapidated houses back in usable condition, and working with other partners to explore more housing options.

In regard to the proposed marina expansion by Yachting Solutions Inc., Glaser said everyone who owns waterfront property should have the right to develop it to the extent that federal, state and local laws allow.

"If we are going to have a healthy marine economy, we need to allow some development of our waterfront, and marinas can be good for the economy. So-called mega-yachts aren't my favorite boats, and really don't add much to the economy, but they're the sign of a modern, bustling harbor. Having a facility that welcomes a few of them will keep our reputation as one of the premier recreational harbors in New England, and attract other, smaller boats that do help our economy. I'm still trying to find ways to require that any new facility must maintain and improve public access before it can gain any needed approvals from the city. Any project that diminishes public access must be turned down," he said.

Glaser said there should be some retail adult-use marijuana stores in the city, but not in the downtown area. He said changes should be rolled out relatively slowly to make sure that ordinances reflect the needs of the community.

He said it is appropriate for City Hall to be in the heart of the city, but he doesn't know if the McLain School is the best building for it. He said the city should allow the committee studying the potential other uses of the McLain School to complete its work.

In terms of road maintenance, Glaser said there is really only one answer -- spend more money on them. "We need to do a better job on potholes when they crop up, so that the whole road doesn't disintegrate around them, maybe investing in better equipment so that we don't just keep wasting our time doing the same repairs over and over again," he said.

Glaser said the issue of reentry/recovery houses will be generate more discussions over the next few years. "So, it becomes a real fine line if we are trying to regulate recovery houses, and there are no real guidelines on how to do that. It's a work in progress," he said.

Glaser was a schooner captain and served 12 years as Rockland's harbormaster. The Old County Road resident was elected to the City Council in 2016.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: George Terrien | Sep 30, 2019 09:48

Ed Glaser's description (in the third paragraph of this article) of his reasons to run again I find reason enough to support his candidacy.  Thank you, Ed.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Sep 30, 2019 08:35

Sense of community, living in the solution with a resolver attitude. Spend some time talking with this gentleman or bring your questions when there is a debate. He has shown what he is made of and has my vote.

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