Two elderly men, sitting in the front row of the balcony, have been watching production of “Main Street, U.S.” for 17 years. This particular episode deals with “Maine Street, Brunswick, Maine.”
Over the years these two elderly gentlemen have viewed many actors, producers, writers, consultants, directors, etc., who have worked tirelessly to unlock the secrets that would make Maine Street a safe and pedestrian-friendly street; maybe even create a village-like feeling in out downtown. Committee after committee, public meeting after public meeting have produced no credible results or solutions.
Recently, a new ad-hoc committee has been appointed, by whom we don’t know, to include a group of business owners who were very concerned with the latest plan to raise crosswalks – a plan to that would have eliminated many much-needed parking spaces from the downtown. A previous plan was overly bicycle oriented and did little to create a Maine Street thats’ safe and friendly to pedestrians. (Remember the crosswalk flags? Maybe they were the wrong color.)
Where do we go from here? The two elderly gentlemen shake their heads and wonder.
The latest consultants provided a great study and master plan with many innovative ideas for our downtown. Somehow, the town has dropped the ball in following up on many of the consultants’ recommendations. For example, the public has been presented only two of the consultants’ five potential alternatives; both of these plans quickly fell out of favor.
What happened to a third plan, which included one moving lane of traffic in each direction, with a holding lane for cars making turns? This plan even included a center median for trees and possible snow storage. This plan, though needing some changes and adjustments, should be looked at more closely. The Police and Fire departments have said, although not officially, that they believe one lane of moving traffic in each direction, instead of two, could work.
Implementing any plan must be done in stages, on a block-by-block basis, and in such a way to be financially feasible for the town. It can be done with minimum cost, but the town must also make a commitment to study the feasibility of an in-town parking garage to relieve the problems that exist. With the town office and police station planning to move in the next couple of years, a central area for a parking garage could resolve many of our pedestrian and parking problems and go a long way to creating a safe and friendly downtown.
Again, the two elderly gentlemen look at each other and shake their heads. With a combined 160-plus years of experience, what do we know? Remember, we could only afford balcony seats.
Richard Nemrow, 83, has a Brunswick business that specializes in restoration of older buildings. Dick Morrell, also 83, is the retired chairman of Brunswick-based Downeast Energy.