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Rockland to adjust Main Street changes as some see red over neon dividers

By Stephen Betts | Aug 25, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts Rockland is making changes to its downtown Main Street traffic and parking arrangement.

Rockland — Faced with a groundswell of frustration from some downtown merchants, Rockland will be making changes to the one lane traffic on Main Street.

City Manager Tom Luttrell acknowledged that the city could have done a better job at communicating with downtown businesses before implementing the changes Aug. 17.

On that night, the city's public services department placed neon green "delineators" and more Jersey barriers to limit Main Street to one lane.

The changes were made in an effort to provide additional space for businesses that want to serve meals or sell wares outside in the face of government indoor restrictions mandated due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The city manager was on vacation last week and said that contributed to the lack of communication on when the change would be made. But city officials pointed out that it was clear changes were coming and one lane was an option.

Luttrell said the neon green delineators will remain, but will be spaced out to allow vehicles to park on certain sections of Main Street. For instance, from Brass Compass to Key Bank, parking will be allowed. He said public services will make the change  Tuesday night (Aug. 25).

The manager said the city is considering signage to make it clear that motorists can park in certain spaces.

The manager, Public Services Director Kathy Bourque Parker and Rockland Main Street Inc. Executive Director David Gogel walked Main Street Aug. 24 to listen to business owners. The changes coming Tuesday night are in response to feedback, he said.

Heidi Neal of Loyal Biscuit said she still has concerns over safety.

"People are crossing everywhere — more than normal — because they seem confused on where to cross. There is no signage directing traffic, especially where it turns back to two lanes before Tillson and then immediately back to a single lane, where an accident already occurred," Neal said.

"I also think the downtown has become incredibly uninviting and looks like a construction zone, causing tourists to keep on driving north and keeping locals from stopping to visit what was once a beautiful and inviting downtown area. I am still frustrated by the lack of communication as well as no one taking ownership of what has happened."

City and business officials toured Main Street July 7 to consider a way to reduce the street to one lane to allow downtown businesses to use added space to serve customers. In that tour were Luttrell, Wastewater Director Terry Pinto, Fire Chief Christopher Whytock, Bourque-Parker, Gogel and landscape architect Mitchell Rasor, who helped design Winter Street changes.

On Aug. 18, Gogel said he was aware the changes would be made once the city received the materials to mark the street to one lane. He said, however, he was not aware the changes were going to be made Aug. 17.

Many downtown merchants expressed surprise and frustration when they arrived to their shops Aug. 18 to find Main Street was reduced to one lane at the cost of numerous parking spaces.

Lynn Archer of the Brass Compass Cafe said she closed the cafe Aug. 18 because she could not get a propane delivery, nor a food delivery. Archer also said she was planning to sell the cafe because she was tired of how poorly she has been treated by the city.

Patti Moran Wotton of Moran Insurance said on Facebook that she was blindsided by the loss of all parking spaces in front of her business.

The manager said the city has spent slightly more than $10,000 on materials such as Jersey barriers and delineators for the Main Street changes. The money came from a state grant to deal with COVID-19-related changes.

The city has a college student working for public services this summer, painting the Jersey barriers to make them more visible and look less like concrete.

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Comments (37)
Posted by: Valerie Wass | Sep 03, 2020 12:07

Cynthia,

Do you know for certain that COVID grant money was used for this?  Do you know how much?  I have emailed the finance director twice with no reply.  Which really doesn't surprise me because the city does not want us tax payers to know exactly how much money they blew on one way Main Street.



Posted by: Cynthia Mary Anderson | Sep 01, 2020 10:09

Rockland has become a laughing stock for the whole county.  Main St. looks ridiculous and is an eyesore.  Covid-19 grant money was used to pay for a big part of this debacle!  This is sickening.  There have already been accidents.  The citizens of Rockland don't want Main St. changed, but what the people want is not an option on the table.  It never has been.  The council comes up with their brainstorms, and the citizens get it, whether they want it or not.  The taxes are driving people out of town.  I've known several people who are looking for housing who told me they would never live in Rockland because of the high tax rates.  Keep going Rockland.  Pretty soon there won't be anyone left in town to pay your high taxes, and parking will be available for everyone, because it will be a ghost town.  I'm fortunate to rent here.  I would never buy a home here again.  I have a great idea.  Tear down all the businesses on one side of the street, and you could just widen everything up, and have one huge piazza, with two people sitting at a table drinking coffee.  And the city council can do whatever they want, because there won't be anybody left in town to oppose them.

 



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 31, 2020 06:20

Councilor Glaser,

I did not receive Councilor Dorr's email.  I have video of driving down Main Street,that is very congested.  If you read these posts on here, many of the Rockland tax payers do not want Main Street to change, as well as some businesses.  Councilor Geiger mentioned that there could possibly be a meeting at the end of October to discuss the one lane.  I hope that this meeting is made public either on. Zoom or some other way.  Main Street is very confusing and many avoid it now, which is a deterrent to shop Main Street.  As I mentioned to Couniclor Geiger, we, the city government and the tax payers should be coming up with ways to help the businesses on Main Street stay open during the winter. Restaurants will not be able to use the outdoors.  With our season,s, I see only 6 months out of the year that the barricades will be used.  That is a lot of wasted space during the other sic months.  Thank you for your post. I appreciate that you contacted me.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 31, 2020 06:20

Councilor Glaser,

I did not receive Councilor Dorr's email.  I have video of driving down Main Street,that is very congested.  If you read these posts on here, many of the Rockland tax payers do not want Main Street to change, as well as some businesses.  Councilor Geiger mentioned that there could possibly be a meeting at the end of October to discuss the one lane.  I hope that this meeting is made public either on. Zoom or some other way.  Main Street is very confusing and many avoid it now, which is a deterrent to shop Main Street.  As I mentioned to Couniclor Geiger, we, the city government and the tax payers should be coming up with ways to help the businesses on Main Street stay open during the winter. Restaurants will not be able to use the outdoors.  With our season,s, I see only 6 months out of the year that the barricades will be used.  That is a lot of wasted space during the other sic months.  Thank you for your post. I appreciate that you contacted me.



Posted by: Ed Glaser | Aug 30, 2020 20:03

Now, wait a second Ms Wass,
You asked how citizens could petition the city to reverse the changes to Main Street - and I explained to the best of my knowledge the process. I also said that for an accurate picture of the city's petition process, you'd be best off contacting the city clerk. You didn't ask about other ways that citizens could or might protest the changes.

Plus, councilor Dorr also wrote back to you with a thoughtful discussion of the development process, and some of the positives of the change. And yes, we have also received emails in support of the change.

Personally I don't know if it is a good change or not, we need to see how the tail end of the summer went, and get more reports back from merchants, restaurateurs, and residents. I have eaten out a number of times downtown in the last few weeks, and driven through town, and I really haven't noticed any more traffic congestion than usual. I didn't notice any vehicles speeding through town either.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 30, 2020 15:46

On August 26, 2020, I emailed the Mayor and the city council members regarding the big mess they have made of Main St.

I heard back for Councilor Glasser who pretty much told me that we, as tax payers, could do nothing to have Main Street returned to the way it was.  Councilor Geiger called me. She told me that the barriers are probably going to be up until the end of October. She mentioned Boston several times during our conversation.  She is all for the change of Main Street and I believe she would like to see it turn into one lane permanently.

Councilor Geiger is 100% behind the barriers on Main Street.  BUT>>>>>

During the City Council meeting on July 13, 2020 and I quote from VS " Councilor Valli Geiger said Main Street with all the Jersey barriers looks awful."

She will not even be on the City Council.

Those are the only two councilors I have heard from and not the Mayor.  I also emailed the Finance Department on August 27, 2020 asking how much money had been spent already on Main St.  Have not heard back from them either.

It is quite obvious that our city government is not listening to the tax payers nor the businesses on Main St.

Yes, I am still very very upset and extremely angry!

 



Posted by: Edwin D Finnegan | Aug 29, 2020 17:56

The 2nd to last paragraph explains how much has been spent and where the money came from...



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 29, 2020 16:22

I understand that some in the city government and city agencies are from away and some not but would like to see our Main Street changed to one lane.  While bigger cities such as Boston, have done this.  We should be in no way compared to Boston.  We need two lanes.  Summer traffic is bad as it is driving down Main St.  There are many businesses that require deliveries.  Changing Broadway to Route 1 is totally ridiculous as the majority of traffic will follow Broadway and not even drive down Park and Main.  The cities focus right now should be on how to help ALL businesses survive this coming winter.  I emailed the Finance Director of the City this week and ask how much money had been spend on changing Main St. so far.  I have not heard back.  Unlikely that I will.   We need to work together.  Listen to each others ideas, not go out a a very expensive whim!  What do the Main Street businesses feel about this one lane  change?  But it is just not the businesses who should have a voice.  It should be the whole community!



Posted by: Merton Sawyer | Aug 29, 2020 11:24

I just came by Main St. headed to the Fish Pier and there is a MAJOR traffic jam.....something is definitely not right.....



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 29, 2020 06:38

Why are there still those awful neon green poles blocking where people park?  I think that as a community, we should be helping ALL businesses not just those on Main Street.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 29, 2020 06:38

Why are there still those awful neon green poles blocking where people park?  I think that as a community, we should be helping ALL businesses not just those on Main Street.



Posted by: Merton Sawyer | Aug 27, 2020 19:35

Valerie, I was talking aboit being selfish in my thoughts about not wanting St. 1 to be routed through Old County Rd. I do not like what has been done to Main Street at all. I do not like change. It needs to be put back the way it was and at.least think it over for another year. I think it's driving people away instead of making it better for everyone. So anyway, I apologize that was not made clear. It appeared to me things were picking up.pretty well a couple of weeks ago but I think it looks worse again now.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 27, 2020 07:43

Merton,

Selfish in your own thoughts? Selfish has nothing to do with what is going on with Main Street.  It is not working, an accident has already happened, over 3/4 of the parking spaces that are barracked are not being used, it is an eye sore, many are confused about the traffic pattern and the city keeps on changing it, making it worse, this is a BIG WASTE OF OUR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS!!!!!  Aren't the people who work in city government working for the citizens of the city?  Well, when 99.9% of the citizens do not like what has happened to Main Street, the people who were behind this whole BS, should listen!!!!



Posted by: Merton Sawyer | Aug 26, 2020 22:27

There's already enough traffic on Old County Road.... I dont want to see it turning into more of a highway than it already is. I also would not like to see Broadway become the new Rt. 1 although it does make a lot if sense to divert the traffic that way to hit Maverick Street. If we divert them over Old County Road the tourists could easily just bypass Rockland and head straight for Rockport and Camden. Of course, I AM one of those people that does not like to see things change but it is inevitable and as I get older I learn and cannot be selfish with my own thoughts.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Aug 26, 2020 19:36

Anyone lucky enough to be a child in the fifties and sixties has seen the best of times. The greed and uncaring for one another in our society is just terrible. Main Street Rockland is the least of our problems when people think what is important is their stock holdings and believe the lies and corruption by our leaders.



Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Aug 26, 2020 19:23

Rockland now has the distinction of being tied with the US embassy in Iraq in the number of Jersey barriers.... but ours are much prettier and probably more expensive. I think we should string them with fairy lights and top them with planters full of lovely flowers. We might also spring for the rest of the band to join the fellow with the violin I've seen playing on Main St. Are there any organ grinders with monkeys still around we could hire as well?



Posted by: Pam Gushee | Aug 26, 2020 15:56

So far I have not heard or seen 1 good comment about this change. Residents don't like it, Business's do not like it, and the tax payers are very unhappy paying for this crazy move by the Town of Rockland.



Posted by: Ronald Pendleton | Aug 26, 2020 15:23

I was just downtown this past week after moving away back in '01, once downtown was enough, what the hell happened to Rockland?



Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Aug 26, 2020 13:21

Valerie... I think maybe in addition to sending all the Route One traffic to Old County Rd where Mr Carroll can count mufflers that there is a solution to the trucks on Main St problem. Perhaps all trucks could drop their deliveries behind the Lincoln Street art center and goods could be transferred to Main St in wheel barrows or by a bicycle brigade pulling wagons. My idea makes just as much sense.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 26, 2020 12:53

Mr. Carroll,

What is the major benefit of changing Main Street into one lane?  It seems not to be working so far and parking has always been an issue in Rockland.  Why take up more parking spaces that are not even being utilized?  I would like to understand why you want to see Main Street  a one way lane.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 26, 2020 12:50

Mr. Carroll,

Trucks will always need to go through Main Street.  Businesses on Main Street have to have deliveries.  What was done was a big big big waste of tax payers money with no regard to even asking us what we thought, ideas, etc.  Over three quarter of the spaces blocked are not being utilized by the businesses by them.  There is a big concern for emergency vehicles getting through.  It is not shopper appealing what so ever.  Hard to navigate and to shop now.  I do not see any benefit what so ever for this change.  There already has been an accident by Tillson Ave because of the traffic change.  How many more will there be?



Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Aug 26, 2020 12:40

I think Mr Carroll has a wonderful plan with one exception. I think it would be much better to TELL .. not ask .. DOT to make the new Route One Old County Rd instead of Broadway.  Old County was recently redone and could handle constant  bumper to bumper traffic (including trucks) much better than Broadway. Let's get to work on it folks!!!



Posted by: Knight Marine Service | Aug 26, 2020 09:00

It's Wednesday morning and the yellow poles are still blocking the lane in front of Brass Compass and Key Bank????  And the short green baricade in front of CNB is going to cause an accident or worse, mark my words.  I am so sad for the downtown businesses, no one is benefitting from it and the cost, I don't even want to think about what this mess is cost us taxpayers, FOR NOTHING!!!  Celia Knight



Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Aug 26, 2020 08:43

Driving through Main Street has become dangerous for residents - never mind visitors, who must try to figure out which lane is which and pedestrians are crossing wherever there's an opening. Aside from being an eyesore, how can this possibly benefit downtown businesses which have been struggling during the corona virus? Avoiding downtown has become the new reality for residents to the detriment of businesses whose supply deliveries are now also compromised.

-Phyllis Merriam



Posted by: James York | Aug 26, 2020 08:36

"The changes were made in an effort to provide additional space for businesses that want to serve meals or sell wares" Stephen Betts,   Who directed the changes?  I have yet to see it reported who is responsible? and what gives them the authority?   Are there more changes in the works?  and will the people who live and pay taxes in the city have a voice in the changes?



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 26, 2020 08:34

Yet again, our city government does not care what we, the people paying their salaries, think!  This really angers me.  Whom ever put this plan into action...All I can say is, you can’t fix stupid!

How can they justify closing Main Street to one way traffics even over 3/4 of the blocked parking spaces are not being used and could very well be for patrons who wish to park and shop on Main Street? If a petition was started and signed by enough residents, could we force it to go back to the way it was?

Can we, as tax payers, sign a petition to have them put Main Street back the way it was?



Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 26, 2020 08:32

I guess if there is some good that can come of all this temporary disruption is that more people understand that changes CAN be made to allow for a more walkable and pedestrian friendly Main street.  Once the weather changes this will all end, but hopefully it will lead to  more permanent changes for downtown.  New Englanders always find themselves uncomfortable with any change at all.  We should take the opportunities that have been presented to us and spend the next few months to establish real permanent change for good.  First we need to tell not ask the State to move Route one to Broadway and please let's get all the trucks off Main street, find a workable way to make it one lane solve the parking & delivery issues.  Isn't this why we pay a director for the Downtown association.  Let's get to work and stop complaining.



Posted by: Deborah Clarisse Morrison | Aug 26, 2020 07:43

At this point, they can't change it too fast because that would be admitting "they" didn't have a clue what they were doing.  I've seen all this before, many times.  Next time you are walking Main street, look where they planted trees - right were car doors open! Any one remember the magic raised crosswalks to slow traffic?  How about the disappearing windmill at the dump...I could go on but it's too frustrating.  I just feel bad for the younger generation trying to make a living in this city!  SM

 

 

 



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 26, 2020 05:15

I agree with Mr. Jones.  We had a perfectly beautiful Main Street that we all could be proud of.  Let's take it back to the way it was ASAP .   Enough already before the national news gets hold of this fiasco and we are made the laughing stork of our country.

 



Posted by: Ralph Jones | Aug 25, 2020 20:43

why ruin such a beautiful Main st.  all that has been done there and then make it look like a construction sight!!   been here my whole life and while sometimes change is good---this is a Sight!!!!



Posted by: Elizabeth Ignaszak | Aug 25, 2020 20:01

I understand that the officials who designed and implemented the single lane wanted to help downtown businesses.  The way it was done is unsafe and driving customers away from downtown shops. Recognize that and get rid of the mess - it looks trashy, and isn’t benefiting anyone.



Posted by: Marybeth Wadsworth | Aug 25, 2020 19:29

Its foolish. I like the idea of businesses getting some parking back but let's have two lanes of traffic again. This is a very poor design and with colder weather soon to come it will be foolish to think anyone will eat outside in the cold. Cone on Rockland. We are better than this!!



Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Aug 25, 2020 18:05

For those seeing red over the 'neon dividers' ... you may be happy to note that I saw the new temporary Public Services employee painting some apparently brand new Jersey barriers just plain old white at the landfill today. Apparently more changes are in the works for downtown or maybe they are staying at the landfill to present a sanitary effect. Thank goodness the city has the revenue to afford all this.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 25, 2020 17:14

You just can’t fix stupid!



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Aug 25, 2020 16:02

What's confusing about crossing a street in a crosswalk. The crosswalks are still in the same place but many people just want to cross wherever they want.



Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Aug 25, 2020 12:15

I still do NOT understand how a fire truck would swiftly move down Main Street if and when necessary?

I see that our Fire Chief was involved

so there must be a plan that I don't understand.........yet.



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 25, 2020 11:59

"The slogan 'The buck stops here' is a promise that responsibility will not be passed on to anyone else. What's the origin of the phrase 'The buck stops here'? U.S. president Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk with 'The buck stops here' inscribed on it. This was meant to indicate that he didn't 'pass the buck' to anyone else but accepted personal responsibility for the way the country was governed."   :)



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