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Rockland Council voices support for downtown traffic plan

By Stephen Betts | Apr 07, 2021
Photo by: Stephen Betts Rockland Main Street Inc. Executive Director David Gogel made a presentation at the City Council's April 7 meeting.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council will vote Monday evening on a downtown traffic plan that will keep Main Street at two lanes but allow for businesses to set up "parklets" in front of their stores.

Councilors voiced support for the plan developed by the ad hoc downtown traffic pattern study committee. A Council vote on the proposal is scheduled for the April 12 meeting.

The downtown committee met for one evening a week for the past eight weeks. The plan calls for keeping both Main Street lanes open to vehicle traffic. Last summer the city closed one lane along much of downtown Main Street to allow businesses to use the closed lane for serving customers.

Rockland Main Street Executive Director David Gogel said the committee was driven by public safety concerns in developing the recommendations sent on during the past week.

Luttrell said that Jersey barriers or concrete planters will border the parklets for safety of the pedestrians. Local businesses will be given an opportunity to decorate the Jersey barriers.

Coluncilor Louise MacLellan-Ruf said under the proposal, optical illusion crosswalks will be painted to make it appear the crosswalks were raised.

Councilor Sarah Austin said speed enforcement was definitely an issue downtown and suggested an officer be assigned there so the word would get around that speed laws would be enforced.

The city manager said there are only two officers on patrol during the weekdays and it would be difficult to dedicate one officer to downtown.

The proposal also calls for improved signage to tell people where parking and curbside business pick-up spots will be located.

Representatives and supporters of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art spoke out in opposition to blocking off Winter Street to create a parklet. The speakers noted that would close off access to their front doors.

Councilor said the Committee or the city could meet with CMCA to address their concerns and then the committee's downtown design plan could be changed.

The City Council also discussed late in the meeting whether the city should continue to close off Oak Street for adjacent businesses. Councilor MacLellan-Ruf said she has received complaints from people who question the parity of an entire street being closed almost exclusively for Cafe Miranda. Councilors took no action but said they would talk about the matter.MacLellan-Ruf also said cars were parking in no parking zones and wood was scattered around the area.

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Comments (6)
Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Apr 09, 2021 08:41

Two things, first Thank you George for your comments which I believe mirrored mine especially the part about "aristocratic privilege".  Second regarding a police presence on Main street.  Many of us still alive today remember when there was a police officer walking the beat daily for many years as well as a patrolman who walked the entire length of Main street at night checking everyone's doors. Today they seem to have plenty of time to ride around in those gas guzzling SUV's and beat up on defenseless animals up in the bog.  Sorry, with a two million dollar budget think you could find a way to better serve downtown.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Apr 08, 2021 14:24

Cop on the beat will take care of the speeding situation. Enough of the excuses that it can't be done. Use the TIF money if you have to.  Won't take long to get the message across and to help the pedestrian situation along with portraying a safe, friendly town that we are. Optical illusion crosswalks ain't the answer for terminal rudeness.

Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Apr 08, 2021 10:54

Perhaps we could position some cardboard cutout cactus to enhance the optical illusion crosswalks? Let's not forget to decorate the barriers with fairy lights to make things festive.

Posted by: George Terrien | Apr 08, 2021 08:59

Assuming the accuracy of Steve Carroll's report that CMCA either chose or weren't bothered to participate (or even to read the newspaper, in which interim reports would/should have alerted even a long-winter's napper), I have to agree with Louise MacLellan Ruf's observation about due process and respect of volunteer effort toward the end of the Council's discussion.  Is not the foundational requirement for effective democracy participation by the citizenry?  Failure to participate for me moots obligation by volunteers and staff who have worked hard, in a public setting (can't be bothered to attend?  Just Zoom yourself in!).  This committee I know made many and repeated effort to engage and listen to those who might be affected or even just who cared about what's going on.  Go back and reconsider careful, thoughtful, and responsible recommendation?  That just encourages more "can't be bothered, don't care enough to tune in...."  Lesson to be learned?  Or is it another case of titulary noblesse?  I think we settled that question in 1776.  But maybe some of us napped through that and the next couple of centures under aristocratic privilege.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Apr 08, 2021 08:43

I was pleased to be apart of this committee of community members, Main street business owners and City officials who met each week for two months to hammer out solutions to improve our downtown.  Many forwsrd thinking ideas were presented that if supported by the council will make downtown a more pedestrian friendly shopping district.  At our final meeting a representative from CMCA, who evidently had just awoken from a long winters nap , spoke about their opposition to  the plans made for Winter street.  It appears no one had made an appointment to consult with their people before moving forward with changes to downtown.  So in regards to the City kneeling to their demands, I would say "Don't let the door hit you in the as on the way out".

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Apr 08, 2021 07:54

Seriously!  Spending unnecessary money again!!!  "Optical illusion crosswalks"????!!!!!   I sure hope that at least one of the city councilors reads this!  What is wrong with our city government that all they want to do is spend spend spend and waste our very hard earned tax dollars on something so frivolous?  Does the city council not know, after being told and posts posted all the time, that the tax payers of Rockland are so fed up with their frivolous spending habits?  That Rockland has one of the highest tax rates in Maine?  Of course not, they are still spending like fools!  They do not care about the citizens of Rockland at all.  This has be proven time and time again over years and years.  What can we do as citizens to change this?  Anyone?

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