At the Rockland City Council meeting on July 11, Council voted 3-2 not to let the citizens of Rockland vote on a bond of $400,000 — by far the smallest bond being proposed and less than 3% of annual budget — to fix the water leaks in our Recreation Center. Councilors voiced that the tax payers had invested over $1 million dollars some 10 years ago, but the building is having some of the same issues.
In their discussion, they could not let the city’s residents and tax-payers decide the short-term fate of the old building on some sort of supposed “nostalgia” residents might feel for it. Councilor Davis doubled down and said he looked forward to tearing it down.
To date, I have heard little public discussion about why the work done roughly 10 years ago was failing; nobody asked the question why, just 10 years ago or so the building was reported as bone dry is now water damaged. Did anybody ask the question why is it now only after the city regained the administration of the building from the YMCA are we hearing about the leaks? What were the discussions with the contractor(s) at the time 10 years ago? Did anyone investigate whether they used a faulty product or techniques to seal up the basement area?
City councilors who voted against letting the bond go to vote said they wanted to go in a different direction.
Extra, extra, City Council fears citizens’ nostalgia: Cancels vote!
With no alternative proposals, councilors Sarah Austin, Nate Davis, and my good neighbor Louise Maclellan-Ruf voted to let the water continue to degrade the facility. Councilors Glaser and Kalloch said let the citizens decide, thank you.
Saving the Rec-Center is no more about nostalgia than the joy of pitching our rubbish into the quarry was.
This is about public utility and public value. Without a single outdoor basketball hoop, tennis court, or any other notable areas where our youth can congregate and play on city property, we must keep the rec center functioning.
This is not about nostalgia. We don’t have a Pitch, MAC or an MRC in town. Take a closer look, the town with the highest tax rate in the county is a city without a bowling alley, without an arcade, without a billiards hall, roller rink, without much of any recreation for our youth in our neighbourhoods. The old stand-by playgrounds have fallen victim to the times too: James St. playground is a shadow of its former self; Purchase St. no longer — both basketball courts gone.
While our community continues to deal so much pain from young people and substance abuse, letting the Rec-Center erode away is not a different direction, it is more of the same — our community leaders failing our youth. Shame.
While councilor Davis looks forward to tearing down the Rec-Center, I look forward to the day we tear down the façade the city works to present to the tourist; and the day we have city government that is of, by, and for the residents of our city.
And yes, the Flanagan Center is something special and the residents should have the right to preserve it as a recreation center if we so choose.
James A. York
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