Area towns are in the process of preparing requests for their share of $500,000 in planning grants to be distributed by the Maine Department of Transportation as part of the Gateway 1 process.

Camden looks at pathways, waterfront improvements, commercial property inventory

The following proposals were submitted to Camden Town Planner Jeff Nims for consideration for Camden’s share of the $500,000 Gateway 1 planning grant allocation.

The Camden/Rockport Pathways Committee requested funds for a project to “design and build an aesthetic, cohesive, Route 1 Gateway to the town of Camden, from the Maritime Farms gas station in Rockport to the intersection with John, Camden and Conway streets.” According to the request, this first phase would include public input, feasibility, design, and potentially, an initial engineering study for the project.

“Though a small portion of this project involves land in Rockport, it is not expected that Rockport would be interested in a joint proposal,” the application said. “However, the town of Rockport has already expressed their support for this project in their recently approved Bike/Ped Master Plan.”

The pathways project calls for more pedestrian friendly access along the planned route. It would also include improvements at the John Street intersection and would include a pedestrian controlled crossing at the Hannaford Supermarket traffic signal.

“A well-designed gateway will improve attractiveness, increase feeling of community, increase tourism, and improve traffic calming,” according to the proposal. “Sidewalks are a proven traffic calming strategy.”

Camden’s Downtown Planning Group asked for Planning Board and Select Board endorsement of an application for $30,000 to be used to provide design services or fund a design competition for the improvements to the Camden Harbor parking lot and Main Street area.

The request lists several projects as part of an overall proposal, including:

  • Improve pedestrian and vehicular traffic on Commercial Street
  • Improve the pedestrian way in the alley between the Village Restaurant and Linda Bean’s
  • Install a pedestrian bridge across the Megunticook River at the base of the falls to connect the parking lot with lower Harbor Park
  • Install a commercial fisherman’s hoist

Supporters claim the project meets Gateway 1 criteria because it improves pedestrian and bicycle flow, enhances the core growth area of Camden and supports the core’s economic viability and success, provides an increased amount of green space downtown, requires no additional access locations to Route 1, provides the only Americans with Disabilities Act compliant access to lower Harbor Park, and revitalizes Camden’s core growth area by creating a new attraction with the bridge over the falls.

The Camden Business Park Planning Group is also seeking the recommendation of the Planning Board and the approval of the Select Board to submit an application for $30,000.

If approved, the Gateway 1 Planning Grant would be used to contract with a qualified economic development and planning consultant to conduct a commercial property and business capacity inventory and economic development analysis.

“As the town of Camden considers ways to stimulate economic activity that will result in sustainable, year-round, well-paying jobs, it is important to conduct an accurate assessment of all resources that may be available for business development and job creation in Camden,” the request said.

The Business Park Planning Group, a working group established by the Planning Board, has been discussing the feasibility of converting the 70-acre town-owned Sagamore Farm site into a business park campus. The group determined recently, however, that the town should first identify all properties that are available for business development, how existing properties are used, and what options exist to attract well-paying jobs to those sites before going ahead with development at any specific location.

Tying its proposal to the Gateway 1 goals of “preserv[ing] both the capacity of Route 1 as a regional arterial and economic lifeline and the quality of life in the Midcoast,” the planning group said the following:

“For Camden to remain a vibrant year-round community, it must encourage the retention, expansion and creation of well-paying jobs in town … To protect the ‘livability’ of this beautiful coastal Route 1 village, every effort must be made to avoid sprawl … A comprehensive inventory and analysis of the capacity of Camden’s commercial and town-owned spaces will assist the town as it attempts to stimulate appropriate business development and growth, while simultaneously ensuring that the ‘quality of place’ that is exemplified by the town of Camden and its Route 1 neighboring communities will not be damaged.”

Nims said the Planning Board will probably make recommendations to the Select Board on Wednesday, Feb. 3, and the Select Board’s final decision on which projects should apply for Gateway 1 grants will be made at the Tuesday, Feb. 16 meeting.

 

Lincolnville works to mesh Gateway 1 and comprehensive plan

In Lincolnville, Gateway 1 committee members have met with the Land Use Committee, Planning Board and Comprehensive Plan Committee and the town will plan to apply for funding to analyze how the Gateway 1 goals, mission and expectations mesh with the town’s own comprehensive plan.

 

Rockland mulls zoning compliance

In Rockland, city attorney Kevin Beal said an important first step is to bring the community’s comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances into compliance with the expectations of the Gateway 1 process.

“We’re still formulating what our proposal might be,” Beal said Tuesday. He said the Gateway 1 implementation committee, of which he and Town Manger Rosemary Kulow are members, is still looking at how municipalities can set about to adopt the Gateway 1 plan.

“The best use of resources for Rockland would be to do the work we have to do to continue to participate,” Beal said. He said controlling access to Route 1 is one of those goals.

“Much of Rockland already meets the aspirations because we have a developed downtown core,” he said.

 

Rockport moves forward with Route 1 goals

In Rockport, the town plans to apply for Gateway 1 planning funds to proceed with infrastructure upgrades, specifically sewer extensions, as outlined in the town’s 2004 comprehensive plan. Rockport also is considering pedestrian and bicycle enhancement planning for a stretch of Route 1 closer to the Camden town line.

Waldoboro looks at visioning, task force projects

Waldoboro plans to seek program funding through Gateway 1, said Planning and Development Director Patrick Wright. Possible programs could include the town’s visioning process, a project of the town’s Economic Development Committee, to find out what residents want their town to look like in the coming years and decades, Wright said. Also, the Village Task Force is expected to report soon on its work during the last couple of months. The task force may recommend projects that could be funded with Gateway 1 money.

Warren pulls out of Gateway 1

Warren selectmen voted recently to send a letter to the Gateway 1 program giving notice that the town wants to leave the program, according to Town Manager Grant Watmough. The selectmen had previously voted months ago to join the program.

Selectmen did not see a major benefit to the town of Warren from being in the program. In addition, selectmen were concerned that Gateway 1 sounded like a new overseeing body that might take away some local control in the town, according to Watmough.

Towns are required to give 30-day notice that they are leaving the program.

Thomaston participates

Thomaston is participating in the program and seeking grant money for its planning process, according to Board of Selectmen Chairman Bill Hahn. He said that as part of the program, towns will have to revise their comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances, and the Maine Department of Transportation has established grant funding to help with that process.

“I believe in the process here,” he said.

He said the Route 1 corridor needs to be thoughtfully worked out. He sees future planning as the key to preventing sprawl and having people live closer to where they work.

 

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