April 20, 2019

Opponents rail terminal proposal> Residents object to truck traffic

ROCKLAND — Plans by Dragon Products Inc. to establish a waterfront shipping terminal hit a cement wall Wednesday night, as about 75 South End area residents turned out to express “vehement opposition.”

Residents said that 120 round trips a day by 45-foot trailer trucks to establish three jobs at the former Stinson Canning Company was bad business.

At the 90-minute mark of a public hearing at the area vocational school Wednesday night, one Mechanic Street resident said, “Anything the city doesn’t want, they send it down to Mechanic Street. Those cement towers are the worst eyesore on the East Coast. When they closed the fish treatment plant, they put it on wheels and sent it down Mechanic Street.”

Hector D`Lima, vice president of cement operations for Dragon Products said the proposal being investigated involved purchasing the Stinson Canning Co. and loading a 4,000-ton barge every day with 60 truckloads of cement for shipment to the Massachusetts and New Hampshire markets. The plan would require four truckloads an hour for 15 hours a day to a “hermetically sealed” operation which would contain dust and noise.

Similar plans for a terminal at Wiscasset have been abandoned, D’Lima said. If the proposal cannot be established “without provoking disruption or substantial change to the community,” then the cement firm will look elsewhere.

Good idea, said about 75 South Enders.

Pat Ames, a lifelong resident of Crescent Street, expressed “major concerns” about the Dragon plan, including the potential for dust from the plant and the trucks that would coat houses as well as yachts that have started to show up in the harbor now that the fish-rendering plant has closed.

“There will be no dust whatsoever,” D’Lima responded.

A show of hands at the session found not a single person in favor of the plan. But it was not hard to find South End residents who opposed the project. Harold Roberts of Mechanic Street, in fact, found 100 whose names he presented to Dragon officials in the form of a petition. He said a schedule of 120 round trips by huge trailer trucks was not appropriate in a neighborhood with children, parks and a school.

“I have never seen an odor-free, dust-free facility,” Robbins said. “We are vehemently opposed.”

Robbins read a letter from his wife, Barbara Rogers, who wrote which said the South End was ridding itself of the “stigma” of generations ago, through hard work. She suggested that the cement plant look to Thomaston to address their needs.

Another lifelong South Ender, Thomas Molloy has watched the area turn from an undesirable area to a proud one. Molloy said zoning limits waterfront activity to water-dependent marine related business, which would preclude the cement operation. He suggested that the solution was the rail lines which runs south from the Thomaston plant, not east to Rockland. “It is presumptuous to ask us to endure heavy truck traffic. This is totally unfair,” Molloy said.

Other speakers objected to the noise, exhaust fumes and danger from 60 round trips daily to the waterfront by heavy, cement-loaded trucks. Jackie Mclean Skinner watched the trucks go to the grain silos a few decades ago and watched how they ruined the neighborhood.

“It is sad to think we might have to do it again,” she said.

Before any proposal is consider, an environmental study would be needed to determine what damage a loaded barge would do if it sank in a storm, said Al Derosier. “The people who support you could meet in a phone booth,” he said.

Kent Simendinger of Broadway suggested that the city also work to limit truck traffic to the industrial park by developing another road to Route 1. Residents might consider court action unless improvements are made, he said.

Councilor Richard Warner said the Rockland Comprehensive Plan Committee would look at the suggestion. “I hope it happens faster than improvement to Broadway,” said Simendinger.

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