June 24, 2018
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Rockland to hold off on public works garage

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — City voters will not be asked a third time in November to borrow millions of dollars for a new public works garage.

Councilors agreed Monday night that they want the project to go forward but that it would be too early to put in on the November ballot.

Voters narrowly rejected borrowing $2.9 million in November 2011 for the new garage and a salt and sand shed. The bond referendum was rejected 895-881. Voters also rejected a similar public works garage project in 2007 by a wider margin.

City Manager James Smith noted that there is a possible alternative site for the garage than what was presented to voters in the past two referendums. For the past two bond referendums, the new garage would have been built at the current public works garage property on Burrows Street.

This time, however, city officials said the garage could be built on property recently acquired by the city on upper Park Street adjacent to the solid waste facilities. City officials said this could allow the building to serve as space for the solid waste department as well as public works.

Mayor Brian Harden said the new site would allow the city to save money by not having to perform as much work on shoring up the soils at the current site. In addition, he said the city could sell the Burrows Street property to offset the cost of borrowing.

Councilor Eric Hebert said if the city presents the same package to voters in November, it would be disingenuous to voters. Hebert said with the acquisition of the property, the city needs to look at that site to decide which would be better.

“We need to do a lot more legwork before we go to voters,” Hebert said.

Councilor William Clayton was the sole councilor to support having the bond issue go to voters in November. He cited the much greater turnout in a presidential election as the reason he wanted it to go before voters in November.

“We will have a bigger consensus of Rockland voters,” Clayton said.

Councilors asked the city manager to work with engineers and architects to come up with recommendations.

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