Redesign of Camden Public Landing considered
Camden — “It's evident to me there may be more skepticism,” Camden Economic Development Director Brian Hodges said of a $15,000 grant to consider options for Camden's Public Landing.
The grant, funded by Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry which oversees Maine Coastal Program, will allow for further study of current and future use of the town-owned public landing, he said. Hodges said it's important for the town to respect the current working waterfront but during the development of the Downtown Master Plan, options for green space were mentioned.
“I think curiosities are piqued,” he said, adding combining a working waterfront with green space is only one option. “In the end, it could stay as parking. This grant helps us figure out what people want — if there's a change, what would it look like? How would it be designed?”
Currently, the public landing has between 70 and 80 parking spaces, public restrooms and the harbormaster's office, Hodges said. Suggestions to eliminate some or all of the parking spaces have been considered and several conceptual designs are shown in the Downtown Master Plan, he said. Copies of the Downtown Master Plan are available on the town website and Camden Public Library, where copies may be checked out like any other book, he said.
“[The public landing is] such a large project, it deserved its own focus,” Hodges said. “I think it's going to be an exciting project and I'm looking forward to it. We have a thriving downtown and natural assets...if we can provide the outdoor features like the river walk and green space on the public landing, it encourages people to stay longer.”
In turn, people vacationing or visiting Camden that decide to stay an extra day or two boost the local economy, he said, adding he'd also like to see more business conferences come to town as well, further sealing Camden as a destination.
Hodges said he's heard complaints in the past of studies being done and then relegated to a shelf.
“But we're showing we are doing something with them,” he said, pointing to another grant received this fall that will pay for sidewalk installations at Shirttail Point as well as 30 trees planted through a Project Canopy grant this year. “There's value in revisiting.”
The town is required to provide a $5,000 match to the grant, which will be funded through the Economic Development Reserve Fund, according to Hodges.
Public input will be a large part of the public landing redesign process, Hodges said.
“One of the major purposes of the planning and design process will be to involve citizens to explore various options. We want the public landing to be useful and attractive to all of our citizens, businesses and visitors. It is important that this be an area our community will enjoy and be proud of,” Town Manager Patricia Finnigan said in a press release.
Hodges said a request for proposals seeking a consultant for the redesign will be advertised soon and a work group of residents will be formed. He said any resident interested in being part of the work group should contact him at the town office.
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