Community members gathered at the Waldoboro VFW Hall on May 18 for the town’s first visioning session, which focused on peninsula issues. The visioning forums are an opportunity for people to share ideas, make connections and learn about what views they have in common about the future of Waldoboro.

Keeping the town’s rural character, maintaining access to the river for clammers and others, and keeping things the same while creating jobs were some of the issues discussed at the May 18 meeting.

The visioning sessions will continue with a focus on downtown issues on Thursday, May 20 in the Sproul Block Community Room. The meetings all start with an open house at 6:30 p.m., with the meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. The meeting Monday, May 24 at the North Waldoboro Church of the Nazarene will look at North Waldoboro. The town-wide gathering will be held Tuesday, June 15 in the Medomak Middle School gymnasium.

On May 18, facilitator Bruce Hyman asked a few questions and set people to work in small groups. He asked people to put dots on a map to identify the distinctive places in town, especially along the peninsulas. If a group identified the Three Brooks Forest area, for example, the group members then discussed what should stay the same, what should change or improve, and what the place would be like 20 years in the future. The groups also were asked to come up with two big ideas.

The half dozen people at the green table placed many dots along the Medomak River where clammers, fishermen and boaters get to the scenic spots and productive resources. They wanted to ensure that clammers will always be able to get to the river and they wanted to improve the boat ramp and create places where families can have a picnic. The Old German Church and the snowmobile trail were also cited as distinctive places that must be saved for future generations. At the Osram-Sylvania site, there was talk of allowing access by the river but keeping the area available for industrial use to bring back some jobs.

After more than an hour of small-group discussion, all the attendees came back together and spokesmen described their groups’ big ideas. For the blue group, the big idea was a river walk in the village area from the VFW Hall to the Button Factory. The river walk could be tied to the shipbuilding industry that flourished along the river. The blue group said a river walk would bring people to the downtown, and that would create a demand for shops.

The orange group wanted to see the preservation of open space and encourage agriculture and aquaculture. This low-impact growth could help with economic needs while maintaining the rural atmosphere. The purple group was thankful for the town’s rural lifestyle — and mix of different people in town —  as well as hidden gems such as Peters Pond and farmland along Goshen Road. They also said building a replica of a five-masted schooner would celebrate shipbuilding history.

Patrick Wright, the town’s planning and development director, said the gatherings give people time to talk about issues, think forward and solve problems. The forums will help town officials see what people want, which will affect everything from infrastructure investments to grant applications to ordinance changes. The power of a community is citizens’ ideas and connecting with each other, Wright said.