Rockland Harbor on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Backdropped by the city’s bustling harbor, Rockland’s waterfront is lined with nearly seven acres of publicly-owned parks and piers. As a new city committee works to create a redevelopment plan for the area, they’re looking to the public to find out how the area is being used now — and how they might like to use it in the future.

The newly formed Ad Hoc Downtown Waterfront Advisory Committee is circulating an online survey to gauge how the public uses the city-owned waterfront properties and related infrastructure. The survey is the first step in creating a redevelopment plan for the downtown waterfront, which Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell says will build on the broader harbor management plan  that was adopted by the city last year.

“The harbor management plan just gives us guidance,” Luttrell said. “The downtown waterfront plan is actually [aimed at] redesigning the waterfront and the parks.”

Adopted last year, the  harbor management plan replaced a 25-year-old plan, which was drafted before Rockland became a sought after destination. The new plan established a large list of priorities and goals for officials to consider as the city develops. Those priorities include maintaining and improving public access to the harbor, as well as maximizing the use of existing waterfront properties and investing harbor infrastructure.

The ad-hoc downtown waterfront committee was formed to draft a plan and vision for how Rockland can actualize these goals along the part of the harbor most used by the public. Luttrell said the city received a grant to fund 50 percent of the plan development work, which he estimated will cost about $60,000.

The committee only began meeting within the last couple of months and is still in the early stages of its work, according to Luttrell.  It’s starting its work with a survey to gather input, rather than an in-person meeting, due to the pandemic.

The survey, which the city began circulating last week, focuses on four public parks near the waterfront, including Harbor Park and Mildred Merrill Park, where numerous festivals take place during the summer; Gilbert and Adams Central Park; and Buoy Park, where several food wagons operate. Among the questions are inquiries about how often people have visited the parks within the last year, what they did while there and how satisfied they were with the experience.

Similar questions are also asked about the two city-owned piers located near the parks, Middle Pier and the Public Landing.

The city is collecting survey results through the end of the month.