BRUNSWICK — A final draft of the master plan for downtown Brunswick is expected to be presented to town councilors next month.
The plan is “a vision” for downtown, Councilor and Downtown Master Plan Committee Chairwoman Margo Knight said. Input has been gathered for the plan, in the works since 2008, through several public workshop meetings.
There are short-term and long-term visions. The short-term suggestions can be implemented for little to no cost, Knight said. Improvements to downtown, such as plantings, may be tackled by volunteers, she said.
“The short-term suggestions are low cost or no cost,” she said, “because we don’t have the money.”
Brunswick will not pay for or be responsible for carrying out all improvements suggested in the plan, Knight said.
“If anything does require town funding, it will go through an approval process,” she said.
The Village Improvement Association already sponsors contests, such as a window box competition, something Knight said will be encouraged further.
Other options for funding downtown improvements include grants, private donations and business donations, she said. Funding options are included in the plan.
Larger proposals, such as improving pedestrian and vehicle traffic flow on Maine Street, will require more research into funding as well as implementation, Knight said. Traffic flow was a recurring theme of public input.
“People really want major avenues to be more friendly to pedestrians, vehicles and bicycles,” she said, adding one recent experiment with Maine Street traffic flow was “not so much a success.”
Knight said other “low-cost traffic flow experiments” may be attempted pending approval from Brunswick public safety officials.
Another goal is for Brunswick to eventually become a Main Street Maine community, the first step of which has already been completed, Knight said.
Brunswick is already part of the Maine Downtown Network, which is a group for downtowns in the beginning stages of revitalization. Knight said Maine Downtown Network “brings a while structure of landscape design and marketing” to encourage Maine cities and towns to become Main Street Maine communities.
“It dovetails well with our collaborative efforts,” Knight said.
Areas of downtown and Pleasant Street, which was added to the plan about a year ago, were addressed separately as part of the process, Knight said. Each section will be addressed in the final downtown master plan, like the draft downtown master plan.
Ideas like visual impact, traffic flow and improving neighborhoods were all considered while developing the plan. Options for increasing availability of maps and better signs directing people to local businesses were also cited as important improvements.
One consideration for improving traffic coming to downtown is to change exit signs on Interstate 295, directing through traffic to Topsham and inviting visitors to see “historic downtown Brunswick.”
“We want to direct people to ‘historic downtown Brunswick.’ That will make it easier for people to get to businesses on Pleasant Street,” Knight said.
Outer Pleasant Street is described in the draft master plan as the gateway to Brunswick, but not the image the town wants to present to tourists. A survey included as part of the background information in the master plan shows few Brunswick residents shop on outer Pleasant Street due to traffic and problems making left turns across traffic.
Many more residents shop at multiple places downtown, according to the survey included in the report.
A final draft of the plan may be presented as early as the council’s Dec. 6 meeting, Knight said.
Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.