May 26, 2018
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Rockport voters to decide on economic development package

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKPORT, Maine — The town is planning to hold a special town meeting next month to act on four articles that the town manager said are all related to economic development.

Two of the articles involve extending high-speed Internet access to the downtown village.

“These articles are all about economic development and jobs,” said Rockport Town Manager Richard Bates.

Extending high-speed Internet access would assist information and data businesses which are the growing industries, the town manager said.

“A corporate executive could work from here and then take a flight from the airport in Owls Head and be in Boston in 50 minutes,” Bates said. “Someone can enjoy the beauty of Rockport and raise a family here but be connected to anywhere.”

The extension of high-speed Internet from Route 1 to the village also would make each of the existing buildings more valuable and make constructing new ones more appealing, the town manager said.

One of the Internet articles on the warrant seeks approval to reword the town’s downtown tax increment financing district language to allow for TIF money to be used for Internet extension. The other calls for spending $30,000 already collected through the TIF for the work.

Residents also will be asked to support the town applying for two community development grants on behalf of a business and the hospice center.

One would allow the town to apply for a $390,000 state community development grant on behalf of Kno-Wal-Homecare and Hospice. The money would help finance the hospice project that is under construction on the campus of Pen Bay Healthcare. Ground was broken for the hospice house in September and when it is completed late this year the facility will be able to house seven patients with expansion possible up to a total of 14 patients.

The town manager said that if the grant is approved, conditions require the hospice center to create jobs before it can use the money.

The final article asks voters to approve the application for a $270,000 grant to help pay for the extension of a sewer line on Route 1 for Fresh Off the Farm. Voters approved the sewer extension at the polls in November but the town manager said receipt of a grant would reduce the cost to sewer users along the sewer extension.

The special town meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, at the Rockport Opera House.

Public hearings on the four warrant articles were scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, at the Opera House.

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