The Courier-Gazette Editorial

Smith family, Maine Sport deserve credit for downtown solution

Jan 07, 2021

A situation that concerned many about the future of downtown Rockland turned into a win-win this week, thanks to a move by Stuart and Marianne Smith at Maine Sport.

The Smiths, who are the owners of Maine Sport Outfitters, decided to buy 279 Main St. at the corner of Park and Main Streets and open a new sporting goods store there.

In doing so, they did two things for the community.

The former owners of the property proposed demolishing the building and putting up a parking lot. This was not an ideal location for a parking lot, at an intersection that is the gateway to the downtown for travelers coming from Route 1. It would also eliminate a historic building.

The Planning Board and City Council were put in a tough position by this situation. One response would mean limiting property owner rights, and the other would allow the destructive demolition.

The new owners solved this problem.

In addition, they are investing in community business growth, in the midst of a pandemic and resulting economic crisis. They are creating local jobs and opportunities.

Repeatedly, the Smiths, who own and run several important properties in the Midcoast, show they are good neighbors. They make decisions that are both good business and good for the community.

The Smiths own three hotels in Camden — The Lord Camden Inn, the Grand Harbor Inn and 16 Bay View. Stuart Smith is part of Rockland Harbor Park LLC., which owns the boardwalk in Rockland and allows public access to it. They were among the families that privately funded the creation of Midcoast Recreation Center, which was given back to the community as a nonprofit in 2010. They also own the Breakwater Marketplace on Camden Street in Rockland and Maine Sport in Rockport.

We are fortunate to have a strong sense of community from local business leaders. Thanks are definitely due.

Thomaston needs to support its police department

Calls for help from police are up in Thomaston.

Thomaston leaders voted to approve major business development in the town in the form of big box stores, including Walmart. That has led to more calls for service from police.

While the town could be viewed as wise to support business development and the increase in tax revenues that brings, it also needs to recognize its responsibility to respond to the increase in police costs that come with it.

Our story this week on the number of calls town police respond to show a major increase since Walmart opened. The town’s police chief, who runs a good department and has high expectations for his team, says he needs another officer.

To ignore this request could mean putting existing officers in danger by stretching them too thin. An officer in a tough situation, such as a recent domestic call that turned violent, needs backup. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office helps, but it is spread over the entire county.

In addition, some of us remember when State Police Troop D was located in Thomaston. Over time, we have seen a reduction in the local police department.

Certainly a thoughtful discussion should be had, concerning this important issue.

It is one thing to be pro-business and welcome expansion. However, a growing community means a growing need for services. Both revenues and costs must therefore rise.

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