Downtown Bath group in the running for national award

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BATH — Main Street Bath has a 50 percent chance to win this year’s national Great American Main Street Award.

Based in a historic train station at 15 Commercial St., Main Street Bath is part of a program started by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It focuses on the revitalization of traditional downtowns to boost the commercial district’s economic stability and appearance, and to enhance the quality of life and community pride for residents and visitors, according to Main Street Bath’s website, visitbath.com.

The organization is one of 10 semifinalists this year to be recognized; five will ultimately be selected by a national jury to receive the National Trust award. The winners will be announced April 2, at the National Main Street Conference in Baltimore.

“It’s recognizing us for having achieved economic revitalization in our downtown district, using the four points approach of the national Main Street program,” Main Street Bath Director Jennifer Geiger said last week.

Main Street Bath, founded in 2001, has a committee for each of those points. 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. Organization builds cooperation and consensus between people and groups involved in the revitalization process.

Besides Geiger, the organization’s only other employee is a part-time assistant. Geiger said volunteers are “the bedrock of how we get anything done.”

The award application process is comprehensive, she said, requiring information on the organization’s history, its vision for the future, accomplishments of its four committees, as well as photos.

Semifinalists go through a second process, which in part involves collecting 30 letters of endorsement from stakeholders and creating a five-minute video showcasing the community. Charlie Hudson of Arrowsic-based Hudson Media Empire produced Bath’s video; it can be watched on visitbath.org.

It won’t be the first time Bath’s downtown district has been recognized on a national scale if Main Street Bath is one of the award winners.

The American Planning Association named Front Street one of 10 “Great Streets of 2009,” for showcasing the character and planning that go into communities of rich and lasting value.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Jennifer Geiger is director of Main Street Bath, one of 10 semifinalists for the national Great American Main Street Award. The five recipients will be announced April 2.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.