BATH — The City of Ships is once again being honored on a national level.
Main Street Bath is one of five organizations across the country to receive this year’s Great American Main Street Award. The winners, selected by a national jury, were announced Monday at the National Main Street Conference in Baltimore.
The 15 Commercial St. organization focuses on the revitalization of the traditional downtown, according to Main Street Bath’s website, visitbath.com.
“Bath is an excellent example of how, through partnerships and perseverance, a community can overcome seemingly overwhelming obstacles – in this case, the Route 1 viaduct, and competition from ‘big boxes’ – to create a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown,” Doug Loescher, director of the National Trust Main Street Center, said in a news release. “Main Street Bath has given residents and tourists alike a host of reasons to exit the highway and explore its diverse businesses, wealth of historic architecture and authentic maritime heritage.”
The news came three years after the American Planning Association named Bath’s Front Street one of 10 “Great Streets of 2009,” for showcasing the character and planning that go into communities of rich and lasting value.
“It’s an honor,” said Mari Eosco, a Bath city councilor and former Main Street Bath director. She co-chaired the award application committee with Polly Goldman, also a Main Street Bath board member.
“It’s exciting to be accepting this award on behalf of all the volunteers, and the city staff, and the City Council … it’s something that people have been working for, for such a long time,” Eosco said. “People love living here, and it shows.”
Main Street Bath, founded in 2001, has a committee for each of the four points of the national Main Street program:
• Design handles beautification in the city and historic preservation.
• Promotion markets the traditional commercial district.
• Economic Restructuring works to strengthen and expand the city’s economic base.
• And Organization builds cooperation and consensus between people and groups involved in the revitalization process.
The award application process required information on the organization’s history, its vision for the future, accomplishments of its four committees, as well as photos.
“It’s been a wonderful process, revisiting all the accomplishments and the strides that Bath has made, beginning with the preservationists in the ’70s, and through the Bath Business Association, and then, for the past 10 years, with Main Street Bath,” Main Street Director Jennifer Geiger said. “It’s just been an upward trajectory. It’s the energy that everybody brings to it, and you can just feel the affection that people have for this city.”
There were 10 semifinalists that went through a second screening process, which in part involved collecting 30 letters of endorsement from stakeholders and creating a five-minute video showcasing the community. Charles Hudson of Arrowsic-based Hudson Media Empire produced Bath’s video; it can be viewed on visitbath.com.
Geiger noted that Bath is representative of other downtowns throughout Maine, with features like older brick buildings, small independent businesses and celebrated community traditions.
“We’re going to go (to the Baltimore conference) and we’re going to celebrate for Bath, but we’re also going to represent, for Maine,” she said.
Main Street Bath is one of five organizations across the country to receive this year’s Great American Main Street Award. Displaying a commemorative t-shirt are, from left, City Councilor and Main Street Bath board member Mari Eosco, Main Street Director Jennifer Geiger, and Main Street Director’s Assistant Samantha RickerGoad.