April 09, 2020

Rockport sharpens capital plan focus

ROCKPORT — The town’s next five-year capital plan will likely focus on public amenities such as bike paths and nature trails.

The 15-member capital improvement plan committee is preparing to sit down later this week to review possible projects. Town Manager Donald Willard revealed Monday that besides more mundane items like new roofs and paving jobs, bicycle paths and nature trails also will be discussed.

“There is a lot of talk about nature trails to connect the village to the school zone on Route 90,” Willard said.

Route 90 is the present location of the Montessori School, the town’s outdoor recreation area and the future home of the proposed regional $21 million high school for students of Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville.

Willard pointed out that the town owns some abandoned railroad rights of way to the area. He said Camden owns similar rights of way and some consideration would be given to projects involving the neighboring town.

Under the town’s statutes, all capital improvement projects must cost more than $25,000 to be up for consideration and must have a “useful” life of at least 10 years, Willard said. All projects proposed by the committee must be approved by the voters at the annual town meeting, he said.

Since 1986, Rockport voters have approved projects ranging from the annual $250,000 road program, restoration of the Rockport Opera House, expansion of the Rockport Library, water quality improvements at Chickawaukie Lake, creation of Cramer Park on Goose River, Rockport Village and Glen Cove sewer connections, as well as the new town office presently under construction.

All told, the decade of capital improvement projects cost more than $8 million, $5.7 million of which came from state and federal grants.

“All our major bricks-and-mortar projects are now completed or under way,” Willard said. “As a consequence of having received substantial grants, all the projects were put in place while maintaining a stable tax rate.”

As for potential projects other than bikeways and nature trails, Willard ticked off the need for a new roof at the fire station, expanding the capacity of the sand-salt shed, paving town-owned parking lots and construction of a pole barn at the public works lot as possible contenders.

“It’s also likely there will be a new firetruck in the next five-year plan,” Willard predicted.

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