Thumbs Up — What makes Bath special
Even without the new banner hanging above Front Street, it’s easy to see why Bath regularly earns national recognition like the 2012 Great American Main Street honor recently bestowed upon the city.
Recognizing that not everything old is historic, city officials, residents and preservation groups focus their energy on maintaining and celebrating local treasures such as City Hall, the Winter Street Center, Patten Free Library and — soon, we hope — the waterfront freight shed.
While the downtown architecture reflects a deep connection with the city’s heritage, a caring human infrastructure elevates Bath above most as a community that understands the importance of neighborliness in achieving economic development goals.
Visitors who walk into most downtown Bath establishments can expect warm greetings and helpful attitudes. Civic pride assumes a welcoming form, as employees of one downtown shop seem to delight in referring customers to other nearby locales.
A collaborative spirit enriches the community in a way that’s evident to outsiders. When funding for monthly food donation trucks threatened to run out late last year, donors stepped forward to keep them rolling. Successful Kickstarter campaigns for Lanyard Theatre and the Bath Freight Shed Alliance offer more recent examples of Bath’s willingness to invest in endeavors that elevate overall quality of life.
Bath’s downtown revival thrives because its people aren’t afraid to let their hearts guide their actions.
Thumbs Down — A loss for words
The parliamentary maneuver at Tuesday’s Richmond town meeting that spurred a vote to reject borrowing for a library construction project without discussion represents a disservice to the town’s residents and those committed to improving the downtown.
In small towns like Richmond, schools and libraries stand at the center of community. With Richmond’s schools being ameliorated into the broader Regional School Unit 2 culture, the role of a public library as a community asset unique to Richmond intensifies.
At the very least, advocates for the project should have been allowed to make their case to voters. Instead, the project languishes, creating a void on Main Street and undermining past downtown revitalization efforts.
Thumbs Up & Down — Calling all patrons
The scaled-down plans for Brunswick’s new police station depict a building that looks like a Cold War detention center. They meet the cost mandate, but fall far short aesthetically for a structure that’s envisioned as a gateway to downtown.
An earlier blueprint showed a much nicer looking building, but one that would cost roughly $1.7 million more than budgeted.
It’s time to launch the capital campaign to bridge the funding gap. Private donors enhanced past municipal projects by underwriting Crooker Theater at the high school and the Morrell Meeting Room at Curtis Memorial Library.
The police department warrants a similar philanthropic effort.