Farnsworth art may be part of Rockland park

Posted April 07, 2009, at 9:13 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Robert Indiana’s iconic “Love” sculpture may be the first in a revolving series of artworks to grace downtown’s tiny Winslow Holbrook Park, as a potential collaboration between the city and the Farnsworth Art Museum continues to develop.

Some renovations might be completed as early as this summer, in time to coincide with the Indiana exhibit slated to open at the museum this summer.

“I’m so happy about this,” said Roberta Holbrook Best after Monday night’s City Council meeting.

Best, 89, is the sister of Albert Holbrook, who was killed in World War I and was one of the men honored by the name of the pocket-sized park next door to the Trade Winds Motor Inn. Improvements to the park are part of the second phase of Rockland’s Main Street “Streetscape Improvements,” a project developed for the city by the Wright-Pierce engineering firm.

According to the engineers, redeveloping the park would cost an estimated $326,000. Officials from the Farnsworth have expressed their willingness to lend the city works to place there and landscaping estimated at $15,000.

“I’d hate to miss out on the opportunity the Farnsworth is giving us,” said Mayor Deb McNeil. “It’s a very generous donation.”

Other councilors expressed enthusiasm over the proposed renovation of the park.

“This park is a very integral, major portion of any downtown streetscape improvement,” said Councilor Brian Harden.

Terry Pinto, the former interim Rockland city manager and current head of the wastewater department, said that he hoped to get the project out to bid soon. He also said that the city will apply for a grant next year to continue the upgrades.

“What we’re trying to do is the basic right now,” Pinto said. “As time goes on we can do more as the money becomes available.”

In other matters:

ä Councilors also heard an update from the engineering firm about a plan to improve the parking lot between Orient Street and Oak Street, and about a $400,000 project to control a tributary of Lindsey Brook, which often causes flooding problems in the city.

Engineer Mark Vannoy of Wright-Pierce said installing a 36-inch storm drain from Lindsey Brook out to the harbor would mitigate a lot of the problems.

“It would shave peak flows from storm events,” Vannoy said.

Councilor Eric Hebert said that would help.

“If we can avoid the two-, three- and five-year events that seem to plague us, this would be a good investment,” he said.

ä Councilors were in favor of giving the go-ahead to a proposal to apply for a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant which would be used by a company that will manufacture solar panels locally.

Christoper Straka, CEO of Rockland’s Ascendant Energy, said that if the grant is approved it will be part of the funding for a $5.8 million manufacturing project. The solar cells would be manufactured by 35 line workers who would make $17 an hour.

“What’s important to me now is to have the city’s backing,” Straka said.

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