ROCKLAND, Maine — The estimated cost to revamp Rockland’s most prominent waterfront park is between $2.2 million and $2.5 million, according to a preliminary engineering report.
The cost estimate, completed earlier this month, is based on a plan that was first publicly unveiled in February 2011 that called for building an amphitheater; constructing a boardwalk that would extend from the one owned by an abutting private property owner; shifting parking to along the seawall with the addition of green space; and creating a separate entrance for the boat docking area.
The redesign of Rockland’s Harbor Park has been discussed for decades. A formal Harbor Park Redesign Committee was appointed in 2002 but became dormant. The committee began meeting again in 2009.
The committee requested during its February 2011 presentation that the council approve spending money for an engineering study. The council agreed the following month to authorize up to $10,000 for the study.
That report by Gartley & Dorsky Engineering and Surveying of Camden was released on Feb. 8. It indicates that true construction costs are difficult to represent until more specific plans are developed.
The 2011 proposal called for creating an amphitheater on the banking that runs from Mildred Merrill Park on Main Street to the Fishermen’s Memorial Pier that is used as the stage for summer festivals. The committee did not recommend installing permanent seats but that the space be large enough for people to bring chairs.
The redesign also proposed replacing the parking along the oval-shaped grass area with a single row of spaces along the seawall where the boardwalk would be constructed.
The separate entrance for the public landing would allow boaters to get to the docks without being blocked when there are activities being held on Harbor Park.
Harbor Park is used each summer for the North Atlantic Blues Festival, the Maine Lobster Festival, and the Maine Boats, Homes & Harbor show.
The committee members stated during their earlier presentation that they did not know where the money would come from to perform the work. They suggested that possible sources include funds generated by a downtown tax increment financing district, private donations, city appropriations, or other grants.
City councilors said at the time of the 2011 presentation that they needed a cost estimate before considering any additional action. The study results have been passed on to Councilor Eric Hebert, who chairs the redesign committee. Hebert said he would review the report and discuss the cost estimate and next steps later in the week.
The committee had stated that the improvements to Harbor Park would enhance the quality of life and promote economic development because regular events open to the public could be held at the amphitheater from late spring through early fall.
The park was created in the 1930s as part of a Works Progress Administration project on land that had been a city dump site.