Redesign of Camden Public Landing considered

By Stephanie Grinnell | Nov 28, 2012
Courtesy of: Camden Downtown Master Plan Conceptual designs of the Camden Public Landing.

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.

Associate Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or

Comments (14)
Posted by: Dan Bookham | Dec 02, 2012 09:14

I have a quick math d'oh! to correct from my earlier comment: half a mile should take about 7-10 mins.

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 29, 2012 22:41

I for one have for years by-passed Camden proper as tourist traffic and congestion in the route one as the traffic stop holds one up for long waits to stop and enter and slowly drive through. I go around Camden whenever possible. I go back roads to UCC Church Sundays and week days. I live in Thomaston and leave Camden for the tourists until after the leaf season. Good luck with this problem. I have been here since I moved from Boston when I was 18 years old and now as a Senior Citizen see the same problems.

Mickey McKeever

Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Nov 29, 2012 15:41

What everyone seems to be forgetting is the fact that approximately 7-8 fishermen require all day parking through a permit system as well as the boat captains and daysailers all have at least one parking permit assigned to them with one having 3 permits due to having 3 vessels.  So whatever may be designed and implemented these folks have to be taken into consideration. Approximately 15 spaces are taken each day at the landing by these folks and they take the prime spaces every day.


Posted by: Town of Camden \ Town of Camden | Nov 29, 2012 13:05

We want to be sure that readers and the Camden community understand the 4 conceptual images of the Public Landing shown above are not part of any predetermined design.  These were included in the Downtown Master Plan as a means to encourage thought and discussion.  The Downtown Master Plan did not include a concentrated focus on the Public Landing because we believe it deserves its own effort.  Any redesign of the Public Landing would be achieved through community input.  Once a consultant firm is selected, community meetings will be scheduled so input can be collected and used towards a potential redesign.

Posted by: Laura Amey | Nov 29, 2012 09:50

Good points Dan.  I just wanted to clarify that when I suggested a parking garage in my earlier comment, I meant on the existing site across from the Knox Mill--not the tannery--which would obviously be too far, and could be much better utilized.

Posted by: Dan Bookham | Nov 29, 2012 09:42

I think this is a great conversation for the community to be having, and I hope all commenters (regardless of their position) will make the effort to engage with the town through public meeting or written comment during the process. As we have this discussion I sincerely hope that we can start from a position of understanding that this doesn't have to be a zero-sum game and that there's enough brainpower and common sense on hand that we can follow the process through together.

I worked on the landing for 3 years (with the Chamber) and can certainly see the pros and cons of a variety of solutions. For now though, instead of an opinion I'd merely like to offer up some info that might help give the debate context:

Camden's Main Street measures just about 1/10th of a mile (528 ft) from the library to Cappy's.

From the Harbor Master's Office on the Public Landing (currently 90 parking spaces which a all day in the winter, 2 hours in the summer) its about 400ft- up a steep rise- to French & Brawn, and is about a 90 second to 2 minute walk.

From the all day Public Safety Lot (70 spaces) to French and Brawn its about 2/10ths of a mile (1056 ft) to French & Brawn. That should take about 2 to 3 minutes.

The new free all-day parking behind the Knox Mill (106 spaces, ideal for the more mobile among us and those of us who work in the down town) it's about half a mile (from the Knowlton Street end) to French and Brawn, or 2640ft, or about 3 to 5 minutes.

Regardless of how the debate concludes, as you can see this is a matter of feet and inches......

And with apologies to our hosts here at Courier Pubs, here's the story from another publication on the impact of the tweaks to parking that were already made this year in Camden:

Posted by: Paul Smith | Nov 29, 2012 07:03

There's barely enough parking as is, and they want to eliminate most of it at the landing????  I can see adding a bit of picnic/green space, and a bridge over the falls to connect with the Library park would be great, but if residents and visitors can't find a place to park, they won't be visiting any in-town businesses.  Additional parking up near the Police station is great, but for those with mobility issues, that is too far away from the downtown core.

Posted by: Barry King | Nov 29, 2012 06:10

None of the conceptual designs above take into account the working waterfront needs of the town landing. How would fishermen or schooner operators ever have a chance to service the needs of their boats? There are certainly improvements that can be made to the town landing and some limited green space could be added at the north end of the town landing. I am also struck by the physical disconnect between the existing green space at the library park and the town landing. I understand concerns about allowing foot traffic to bypass "maine street" shopping opportunities but my guess is that the enjoyment found in the green spaces would be an attraction not a distraction. Well maintained, attractive storefronts and the love of shopping will assure foot traffic will always be aplenty for the downtown stores. Allowing two paths via a bridge over the river might even help alleviate some of the foot traffic congestion that makes it difficult for visitors to actually stop and appreciate the storefronts.


Posted by: avery brott | Nov 28, 2012 19:56

"Camden has less of a parking problem than it does a walking problem."

Bears repeating.

Posted by: kimberly anne clarke | Nov 28, 2012 19:24

I think it well and good that people want to see the public landing beautified...however, Sandra is right. There is a serious parking issue in Camden. I think that removing existing parking without providing an alternative, will cause people to just drive through town...rather than wanting to stay.

Posted by: Dave Getchell | Nov 28, 2012 16:41

Camden has less of a parking problem than it does a walking problem. Excepting handicapped visitors as noted by Mr Lohrman, a few less parking spaces and more inviting green space @ Public Landing sounds like a compelling attraction. The press of cars milling around the landing on a summer day...not exactly a picture postcard situation.


Look at Rockland: their Public Landing combines parking, open space and harborside spectating. There's space for farmer's market, boat shows, concerts, and chowing down on lobster. Camden could have something similar, if on a smaller scale...except nobody seems able to see past the "where the *&%%$? do I PAARK" question, to the town's detriment.

Posted by: William Lohrman | Nov 28, 2012 16:21

An an annual visitor, I would like to see alternative parking completed before the green space is installed.  Additionally, because my wife has M.S., I would hope that sufficient handicapped parking is maintained.  If we can' park conveniently, we would't stay an extra day as proposed above.

Posted by: Laura Amey | Nov 28, 2012 14:36

Finally, I have never understood why one of the most beautiful areas in Camden houses a parking lot.  Perhaps we could also consider a parking garage in the future (where the existing lot is across from the tannery for example) to further clear up congestion and encourage more pedestrian traffic in town.

Posted by: Sandra Overlock | Nov 28, 2012 09:10

It is hard enough to find a place to park in Camden. I can't see doing away with spaces. 

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