Bridgton Library courtyard grand opening

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer

These are “most interesting times” in Bridgton, Selectmen Chairman Art Triglione said Saturday, standing on the front steps of the Bridgton Public Library on Main Street, in the heart of downtown.

Facing him was a large crowd, gathered to celebrate the completion of a new front courtyard designed to put a welcoming face to the library and be used as a public gathering space.

“These are the turning points, and your courtyard is part of that,” said Triglione, one of several speakers representing town government and the business community. “As we continue to focus on the downtown as the lifeblood of our community, we also encourage other businesses to make investment decisions as well that are part of the town’s economic development effort.”

Triglione, on behalf of the board of selectmen, said “We thank you, for your vision of the future to make this courtyard a remarkable symbol of what this community can achieve when it is committed to generations of people ahead of us.”

Jim Mains, executive director of the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, thanked “the enthusiasm, the spirit and the desire to improve the community” that led the library’s Board of Trustees to spearhead the grassroots effort to build the courtyard. The project’s budget was $80,000, but actually cost much less than that, thanks to the huge amount of donated labor from local contractors, financial donations and the commitment of courtyard designer Lucia Terry of Perennial Point of View.

“They started with a vision, they developed a plan and carried it through. The Chamber is truly appreciative,” Mains said. “This sets the standard for future projects to come down the road.”

Alan Manoian, Bridgton’s director of Economic and Community Development, said the courtyard, with its stage, children’s area, wiring and lighting, represents a “supreme act of sustainable town planning, toward a more liveable, walkable, enjoyable downtown.” He said the courtyard “makes you want to spend time and linger.”

When businesses and other property owners on Main Street ask town leaders what they can do to help the economic vitality of downtown, Manoian said, “We’ll say, please look to the leadership of what the library did here.” The design of the courtyard, with its curving granite walls, complements the classical revivalist architecture of the 1913 library building, he said, welcoming patrons to experience all that the library has to offer.

Jim Cossey, former president of the board of trustees, said the courtyard represents “a reconnection of the building to Main Street, and a commitment to the ongoing growth and unique character of western Maine.”

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