Rockland city panel recommends action on deteriorating, shuttered school

Posted Jan. 24, 2012, at 6:17 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The city is in the initial stages of making a plan for a closed-down school it now owns. A recently issued report suggests that the school that is on about five acres of land near the city’s center should be turned into housing. It also gives options of either creating open green space or a dog park. The least desirable option, the report seems to suggest, is to continue to do nothing.

In autumn 2010, the local school district gave the dilapidated, asbestos-filled building to the city. According to city research, the building would need a new roof, walls, windows, siding and a new boiler to be up to code. Also, there is a fuel tank under the school’s land that needs to be dug up because it violates federal and state environmental standards.

The report by a city committee did not hand up any solid recommendations other than that something needs to be done before the building becomes more of an eyesore.

Most of the report is dedicated to exploring what types of housing might best fit onto the property, if the city sold it. It would fit about 23 units if it was split into single-family homes and a few two-family homes. If it were multifamily homes it could support 45 units, the report stated.

The land is currently used by local residents who like to hang out in the grass, play frisbee or use the playground. Although Rockland has 19 parks with a total of about 60 acres, city officials have said the city is “land poor” and might benefit from keeping some land.

But something has to happen, the report points out.

“MacDougal property is a liability to Rockland versus an asset. As the vacant building deteriorates it creates an environmental hazard, insurability hazard, a neighborhood market depression and a financial burden to taxpayers,” the report states. “As the deterioration increases, the building will become more of an eyesore to the neighborhood … and [will] attract vandalism and crime.”

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