Rockland council backs $400,000 boardwalk expansion

Posted Nov. 14, 2013, at 5:36 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The Rockland City Council gave its backing Wednesday night to extending its harbor trail by building a boardwalk along the seawall at Harbor Park.

The council voted 4-1 to apply for a $200,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund to construct the boardwalk. That would be matched by $200,000 from the city’s downtown Tillson Redevelopment TIF Development Program.

Councilor Eric Hebert said the boardwalk construction was unanimously supported by the Harbor Park Redesign Committee as a top priority. The committee has come up with a plan for a major redesign of Harbor Park which is the city-owned waterfront parcel used during the summer for the Maine Lobster Festival, North Atlantic Blues Festival, and the Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show.

The boardwalk would be a project that would be the least disruptive part of the redesign of the park, Hebert said, and would be highly visible.

The structure would be 12-foot wide and run 300 feet along the seawall, extending over the harbor. The city should know within a couple months whether it will receive the grant.

The Harbor Trail is an important link between Snow Marine Park in the city’s South End to the downtown, the councilor said.

Councilor Frank Isganitis agreed.

“Nine years ago when I came to Rockland, the Harbor Trail was just a vision on different pieces of paper,” Isganitis said.

Councilors agreed with a recommendation by Councilor Larry Pritchett to require that the final plan for the boardwalk come before the council before it is put into effect. Supporting the grant application will get the design work going, and if funding is received, the city can proceed.

Elizabeth Dickerson, the only councilor to vote against the measure, said she supports public parks but had received enough comments from constituents — about what they felt was the lack of public involvement in the boardwalk plan — that she wants to hold off on the project.

The council also voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve spending $9,000 to match a $35,000 grant to extend the Harbor Trail from Sandy Beach toward Snow Marine Park. That part of the trail could be a marked gravel path.

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