Brunswick councilors consider 'vision' of downtown master plan

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BRUNSWICK — Town councilors expressed their initial reactions to the newly minted Downtown and Pleasant Street Master Plan at Monday’s Town Council workshop.

Councilor Margo Knight, who chaired the committee that drafted the plan, encouraged councilors to “focus on the vision, and how we can get there,” rather than getting caught up on the details.

That vision includes making Maine and Pleasant Streets safer for pedestrians and drivers, increasing the livability of downtown residential neighborhoods, marketing the town’s assets to visitors and attracting new businesses to the town.

Many councilors voiced their support for both the plan and the idea of focusing on the big picture.

“I think that Brunswick has got to have a plan like this,” Councilor Ben Tucker said.

“If you don’t have a plan then how are we going to bring out the best in the town and make people aware of what we have and improve it?”

Still, some councilors got caught up in some of the plan’s detailed recommendations.

Councilor John Perreault objected to a proposal to pave downtown sidewalks with “concrete pavers,” or simulated brick, instead of asphalt, arguing that it is significantly more expensive.

And Tucker wondered, “how is a parking garage near Fort Andross better than any other place?”

Other councilors worried that the plan makes unnecessary demands of small business owners, whose views are not necessarily represented by councilors.

Chairwoman Joanne King expressed concern that “some of the recommendations seem to be very personal, like we’re going to tell these owners they need to fix their yard or driveway. How do you do that? Some of these people that are affected might read this document and be alarmed.”

Knight responded that nothing would be forced on anyone, and that each recommendation would be carefully scrutinized and voted on by the council before being implemented. In addition, she suggested inviting small business owners to sit in as ad-hoc members of committees.

Toward the end of the workshop, Jim Trusiani, the vice chairman of the Topsham Board of Selectmen who was sitting in on the meeting, reminded the Brunswick councilors of the regional implications of their decisions.

“It’s not just the town of Brunswick’s vision, it’s a regional vision,” he said.

He cautioned councilors against spending time arguing over recommendations that he believed are unlikey to come to fruition, like the construction of a parking garage next to Fort Andross.

“Make sure that all your visions at the end of the day can be reached, in terms of regulatory requirements,” he said.

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