September 20, 2013

Five communities get livable cities grants

Morning Sentinel

Five Maine cities have received $15,000 grants to help them achieve environmental sustainability and create healthier, walkable communities.

Biddeford, Belfast, Waterville, Skowhegan and Augusta received the grants issued by the Maine Development Foundation's Maine Downtown Center.

The so-called Green and Healthy Main Streets grants require one-to-one matches from each community and are expected to generate more than $250,000 in total project costs, according to a Maine Downtown Center news release.

The grants are funded by the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation.

Biddeford plans to use its grant to increase fitness activities and green space in a downtown park.

Belfast also plans to make improvements to a downtown park.

Waterville is planning to use its grant to launch "Spring Street Pedestrian Convergence: Using Green Space and Public Art to Link Hathaway Creative Center, the South End Neighborhood and Downtown Waterville."

Skowhegan plans to use its grant for rehabilitating the second floor of the McClellan building, an historic downtown building with entrances on both Water and Commercial streets.

The Augusta project is designed to encourage people to use the natural riverfront environment to achieve better health. It is part of the city's larger focus of expanding the Kennebec River Rail Trail and connecting it more directly with the downtown historic district.

Roxanne Eflin, senior program director of the Maine Development Foundation, said the grants are being launched through the Sewall Foundation but are just one part of her organization's efforts to improve downtowns.

The campaign is called My Green Downtown, according to Eflin.

The four core goals of the downtown campaign are quality design, social interaction, energy efficiency and healthy communities.


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