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Board to review Bath Comp Plan comments

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Board to review Bath Comp Plan comments

BATH — The Planning Board plans to discuss public comments about the proposed Comprehensive Plan and the city's responses to those comments at its Tuesday, March 17, meeting.
The public had an opportunity on Tuesday to discuss the draft plan, which has been in the works for more than four years and is expected to be adopted later this year by the City Council. An official public hearing will take place prior to the plan being adopted.
The Bath Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, which has been hammering out an update to the 1997 plan, submitted the lengthy document to the Planning Board in January.
City Planner Jim Upham said the public comments and responses from Tuesday would be posted on the city's Web site. Upham said he hopes by the end of next week to submit the plan to the Maine State Planning Office.
"It's important to the city of Bath," he said, "that we have a certified Comprehensive Plan. And it gets certified by review and approval by the State Planning Office."
Certification is important, Upham said, because when the city applies to the state for things like community development block grants, it receives extra credit for having a certified plan.
Paul Gamache of Washington Street was one of the few people to speak at Tuesday's meeting. One of his chief concerns was the creation of a walkway along the Kennebec River to stretch from the recently renovated train station on Commercial Street, leading underneath the Sagadahoc Bridge and further up that street to at least the area known as the Coal Pocket.
"If you look at what that can do for the city in terms of prosperity for the businesses, I think it would be a wonderful thing," Gamache said.
Upham pointed out that a plan is underway to create such a path.
Gamache also advocated for a place along Bath's shoreline for cruise ships to dock.
"I think we should really try to work to develop (the waterfront)," he said. "I think it would be a boon. ... It's an incredible asset."
Following the comprehensive plan's introduction, which outlines the comprehensive planning process, is a chapter forecasting a goal-driven vision of Bath in 2025. The third chapter describes Bath's historical and geographical setting, written by former Planning Board and comprehensive planning committee member Robin A.S. Haynes.
Upham explained that at its outset, the committee brainstormed what its members liked and disliked about Bath, along with what actions were necessary to address the negative aspects.
The city's historic downtown, walkability, vitality and non-franchise stores that cater to local needs are among Bath's assets, according to committee members. The appearance of Bath's Route 1, with a chain-link fence separating the northbound and southbound lanes, drew criticism, along with the corridor's litter, traffic, the number of curb cuts, lack of access management and speeding vehicles. Essentially, they said, it is out of character with the rest of the city and presents a less-than-appetizing gateway to Bath.
Upham said the 2009 plan is intended to be geared toward action; more so, he said he hopes, than the 1997 incarnation. He said the paths to the city's future are not something to be found, but rather something Bath should create for itself.
"Hopefully this document will help to make these paths," Upham said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

• FYI: Bath's Comprehensive Plan update can be viewed online at www.cityofbath.com. The draft document is in the Planning and Development section, found in the Government area of the site.