Council OKs buying large parcel in Bog

Rockland declares former MacDougal site a park

By Stephen Betts | May 09, 2017
Photo by: Stephen Betts Parks Commission member Joseph Steinberger unveiled last summer a plan for the former MacDougal School that was backed by the Rockland City Council at its May 8 meeting.

Rockland — The former MacDougal School property is Rockland's newest park.

The Rockland City Council voted 4-0 at its Monday, May 8, meeting to make the designation. Supporters envision the creation of a trail system that would begin at the city-owned land on Broadway and continue to the Bog, where councilors also voted Monday night to purchase 174 acres.

Parks Commission member Kyle Swan urged councilors to approve the park designation for MacDougal.

The city acquired the property from Regional School Unit 13 in 2010 after the former elementary school was closed. The building was demolished and the city has considered multiple uses for the 4 acres in the ensuing seven years. Those options have included creating housing and using the land for a solar farm.

The land, however, has a deed restriction. A February 1931 deed from the Rockland Community and School Improvement Association to the city stated the land “perpetually be dedicated to the boys and girls of Rockland.” No buildings are allowed on the land other than a school. MacDougal was built in 1954 and torn down in 2012.

Swan said that with little effort, the MacDougal Park can be connected by a trail to the city-owned playing fields on Old County Road. Then the trail can be extended to 40 acres of city land on Tolman Road near the peak of Benner Hill. From there, the adjacent Bog offers a trail system.

MacDougal Park is easily accessible from downtown; people can walk or bicycle there, Swan noted, and there is ample parking for those who come by car. The park and trail system can be used for walking, hiking, concerts, sporting events and, in the winter, cross-country skiing, Swan said.

"Many communities benefit from centrally located green spaces," Swan said. "This can entice people to invest in the community and will indirectly generate tax revenues."

Council candidate Amelia Magjik agreed.

"Keep this [MacDougal] as a city park. Green spaces can spur economic growth," Magjik said.

Council OKs Bog buy

The City Council also voted 4-0 to authorize the city manager to enter into a purchase-and-sales agreement with Malcolm Von Saltza for 174 acres he owns in the Bog near Route 90. The city would pay $52,000 for the land in the Rockland Bog.

The money will come from the city's land sales reserve account as well as private fundraising.

Councilor Adam Ackor said the land would be an asset to the city and it would be a shame to lose the opportunity offered by Von Saltza.

Annette Naegel, director of conservation for Georges River Land Trust, said the offer was an amazing opportunity for the city.

Council candidate Stephen Carroll said he did not support the purchase.

"That money could be better spent for something in town that more people could use," Carroll said.

Other actions

The council had a long list of agenda items at its May 8 meeting.

In other actions, the council voted 4-0 to give preliminary approval to renew the lease with the Rockland Yacht Club for use of the city-owned building on the public landing where the harbormaster's office is.

The Yacht Club will pay $5,400 annually under the five-year agreement for use of 600 square feet on the west side of the building. The council deleted a clause in the agreement that would have set aside four parking spaces for the club, which has used the space for many years.

The yacht club was created in 1927.

Club Commodore Vince Bemis said the members serve as ambassadors to Rockland and pointed out that the group pays for a year's use, but truly only uses it for several months each year.

The council also voted 4-0 to issue a municipal quitclaim deed to sell the city's interest in the apartment building at 56 Talbot Ave. to William and Julie Lewis for $66,000. The couple said in a letter to the city earlier this year that they planned to renovate it and make it their primary residence, along with a two-bedroom apartment in the rear.

The city acquired the land in April 2016 when it foreclosed on a $222 sewer lien.

The property is assessed by the city at $265,600, which includes a quarter-acre and a three-unit apartment building that has total floor space of nearly 3,600 square feet. The home was built in 1858.

The council also voted 4-0 May 8 to solicit proposals for the sale of three city-owned properties -- 10 Lovejoy St., which has nearly an acre and a run-down house; a slightly larger than 1 acre lot on 17 Sherer Lane; and a house and nearly 1 acre on 42 Lake View Drive.

The council also voted 3-1 to deny a request by Home Kitchen Cafe to close a small section of North Main Street Friday, July 14, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for a block party. The restaurant owners would have paid for any costs incurred by the city.

Councilor Valli Geiger said she was uncomfortable approving a street closure for a profit-making business during the height of summer.

Mayor Will Clayton said Tuesday his concern was not that it was a profit-making business but the logistics of closing a street in a residential area. He also said the owner was not at the agenda-setting meeting last week to answer questions from the city. The mayor also questioned whether the estimate of 100 people attending would have been correct.

The council later voted 4-0 to approve closing Main Street from Park Street to Talbot Avenue from 8 p.m. July 15 to 1 a.m. July 16 for the annual "Club Crawl" held in conjunction with the North Atlantic Blues Festival.

Comments (5)
Posted by: David E Myslabodski | May 09, 2017 15:17

The gift that keeps on giving . . .


Renting a beach-front 600 sq ft building for $450.00 a month seems way below market rate.


At least, they are not giving away free parking . . . .

Posted by: johanna stadler | May 09, 2017 14:03

Think this is a great idea.  Of course people don't move to rockland for this, but we know they surely will come and visit and this will be an attraction that isn't an art gallery.  only thing going to make people move here are jobs, don't see what this piece of property really has to do with that issue, but after they are done hiking they can eat at all the restaurants buy gas, get coffee, get booze, whatever they spend money.  remember it has to be used for kids, what could they put on 4 acres for kids that would bring in a boat load of jobs?  child labor sweat shop pops into mind


Posted by: Valerie Wass | May 09, 2017 13:29


In the article, Parks Commission member Kyle Swan referred to it as "MacDougal Park".  I was getting mad when I first read the article.  Upon finishing it, I decided that it would be a good idea.  Better idea than the "Blue Line".   It would be nice to have a trail in Rockland for families to hike and explore.  Although the city purchasing 174 Acres of Bog is questionable.


Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | May 09, 2017 10:53

I continue to be impressed with the job acting City Manager Caler Bell and the city council are doing. There is no hesitancy to put  an item off if it needs to be looked into further or dealing with items that have sat on the table way too long. If you see one of these people on the street take a moment to give a word of encouragement.  Now, if only this would catch on in Washington maybe they could accomplish something.  "AS MAINE GOES SO GOES THE NATION." may come back.  Image result for working together

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | May 09, 2017 10:41

Unbelievable ! People do not move here because the mill rate is so high. Another park will do nothing but cost taxpayers for maintenance. The only saving grace I see is for some rich outer- stater to take a liking to my house and can afford the tax bill. Wonder who the park will be named after, Swan or Steinberger?

If you wish to comment, please login.