ROCKLAND, Maine — Faced with a large contingent of residents voicing support for the Brass Compass restaurant’s use of a strip of an adjacent park, city councilors will consider the proposal for the third time this spring.
Nearly four hours into a Monday night meeting, Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson asked that the council vote June 11 on her proposal to allow the Brass Compass to use an 8-foot strip of the park. Under her proposal, the city would charge the Brass Compass $100 per table.
In both April and May, the council rejected on 3-2 votes allowing the Brass Compass to use a 12-foot-wide strip at $25 per table.
At the public comment session of the meeting, 14 people went to the podium to urge councilors to allow the restaurant to continue to use the park as it has for nine years.
Former Councilor Joseph Steinberger was one of those speakers. He noted he and his wife operate a restaurant on Main Street but are not envious of the Brass Compass being located next to a park and able to use some of the land.
“Her success is Rockland’s success,” Steinberger said.
Real estate broker Douglas Erickson said he has been involved with the property, that Lynn Archer now owns, since the early 1980s and that the park had not been used until Archer opened the Brass Compass and maintained the adjacent square. He said he has talked with a few businesses during the past week and they have decided not to come to Rockland because they felt Rockland beats up on small businesses.
“Find a way to put a positive spin on this thing and end this,” Erickson said.
Frank Isganitis, owner and operator of the Limerock Inn, said there are positive ripple effects from the Brass Compass customers coming to Rockland. He said the council needs to be creative in encouraging businesses at a time when the tax rate is rising.
Rick Catalano, a local contractor, told the council that having people dining outside in the park at the entrance to downtown helps boost Rockland’s reputation.
In response to Dickerson’s proposal, Mayor Brian Harden said a workshop should be held by the council to hear all sides of the issue. He said councilors only heard one side on Monday night.
Dickerson said she wanted her proposal voted on and it was placed on the June 11 council agenda.