Krieg learns what Bridgtonites want

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Anne Krieg, Bridgton’s Director of Planning, Economic and Community Development, said it was heartening to her to see nearly 30 residents show up for the May 31 downtown revitalization workshop sponsored by the Community Development Committee.

It meant that people wanted the new planner to know what they cared about, and what they’d like to see being worked on in town.

“A lot of these ideas have been voiced before, but for me, being new, I wanted to hear them,” said Krieg. “I’m glad they were patient with me.”

The informal brainstorming session had Krieg at the white board, writing down ideas both ambitious and routine. The ideas ranged from such mundane items as having a “left green onto Kansas Road,” to defining the role of government in working with the private sector on downtown revitalization.

Krieg said the workshop helped validate the current efforts of the Comprehensive Plan Committee to update the 2004 Comprehensive Plan, as well as the CDC’s various projects. “It validates moving forward in these areas,” Krieg said. She said she was impressed by the willingness of those who attended to speak their minds about what they wanted to see happen.

“It showed me that people are engaged in Bridgton, and want to see positive change happen,” she said. “They were very open, and not afraid to voice their opinions.”

Krieg transcribed the comments and then placed them into four categories, based on which entity would be the most logical one to take on a particular project or idea. Some things are better left to town government, others to businesses or private property owners. Still others, she said, are best accomplished through public/private partnerships with existing organizations.

What follows are some of the comments or ideas under each of the categories:

Private Property Owner

• Neat and clean properties • Well maintained properties • Minimal use of For Lease signs • Business keeping sidewalks clean • Unique façade treatments • Dressing up empty storefronts • Use of inviting colors and window displays • Unique design • Enhance historic character of building • Landscaping • Businesses stay open until event ends

Public entity

• Directional signage • Safe and secure area • Ease of driving downtown • Parking conflicts with traffic • Truck traffic route •   Quantity of parking • Enhanced streetlighting • Walkable sidewalks • “vest pocket greenspaces” • Signage ordinance – coordinated, consistent enforcement, overregulation concern •       Service center designation • Fixing 302 and other state roads • Upkeep of town rights of way • Other infrastructure • Evaluate TIF • What is the role of government? (1. Support current business 2. Improve town’s website 3. Business recruitment 4. Partnerships with Bridgton Economic Development Corporation) • Grants • Economic development policy • More sweeping • Streamling permitting • Safe & clean property codes • Have committee chairs coordinate their work • 3 ring binder project •          Sewer improvement/expansion • Left green onto Kansas road • Relationship with MDOT • Air brake usage enforcement • SPO grants still there? • Business recruitment – what should our niche be? • Survey of residents

Partnerships/Existing organizations

• Active streetlife day and night • Customer service training • Cohesive merchants • Ever-changing market idea • Dressing up empty storefronts • Parking • Destination markets • More winter/summer events • Open hours for business consistency • “treat visitors like a guest”2

Market

• BEDC work • Market to the day visitor as well as tourists/seasonal homeowner • Bad weather activity/events • Work more with Chamber • Business/merchants association • Shopping choices at pedestrian scale • Boutiques, restaurants, bakery, clothing, shoes, appliance, auto services • Customer service • Destination markets • Which comes first, the people or the place? • Retail jobs not sustainable for residents • Demographics influence the market • Outdoor entertainment • Youth activities

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