The town of Camden has been awarded a $491,314 grant to implement downtown improvements contained in the 2012 Camden Downtown Master Plan.

“This is a great day for Camden,” Camden Select Board Chairman Martin Cates said in a June 18 press release.  “When the Select Board adopted the Downtown Master Plan, we were very clear that we did not want it to be a report that just sat on the shelf.  Receiving such a sizeable grant will make it possible to accomplish many of the recommendations in the plan.”

The Maine Department of Transportation administers the Quality Community Program which provides federal Transportation Enhancement funding. The goal of this program is to improve transportation, improve safety, and promote economic development.  Typical types of projects funded under this program include sidewalks, crossing improvements, off-road connections, and downtown improvements. The Camden grant is intended to implement recommendations in the Downtown Master Plan including constructing new sidewalks and pathways along Washington, Bay View and Commercial streets, pedestrian access to the Public Landing, curb extensions, lighting and other downtown amenities.

“When we embarked on creating a Downtown Master Plan in 2012, it became apparent there was an opportunity to create more of a pedestrian-focused downtown,” Cates said.

Camden’s Downtown Master Plan was created in partnership with a consulting team led by Lachman Architects & Planners. When it was presented to the Camden Select Board May 2012, more than 75 citizens attended and two dozen individuals spoke in favor of the plan with no opposition. The Select Board unanimously accepted and approved the Downtown Master Plan.

The grant requires a local match by the town of $122,829 which will need to be approved through the town’s budget process.

“The Town has a Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program and the type of projects approved by the voters when the TIF was created in 2010 aligns with the recommendations contained in the Downtown Master Plan. This would be a source of funds to meet our required match,” said Brian Hodges, Camden’s Development Director.

Citizens will have the opportunity to provide comments on potential improvements during public meetings which will be scheduled at a later date.  Camden Town Manager Patricia Finnigan noted “the whole key for the Downtown Master Plan to succeed is having public input.”

Copies of the Downtown Master Plan can be viewed at Camden Town Office or at Camden Public Library.  It is also available online by visiting camdenmaine.gov, clicking on Camden Development Office, and then Special Reports.