Friday, December 13, 2013
SKOWHEGAN -- Downtown's notorious "eyesore" buildings at the corner of Commercial Street and Madison Avenue are gone now. They were torn down in October.
In their place is an open space.
The task at hand now, according to Jennifer Olsen, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan, is to see what is to become of that space.
Olsen calls it a pocket park -- the gateway to the Water Street business district with a walkway that passes the town's Renaissance Building.
Main Street Skowhegan will host an informational meeting on plans for the corner at 6 p.m. tonight at the Renaissance Building Conference Room on Water Street.
"Since the building demolition last fall of three blighted properties, volunteers form Main Street's Design Committee have worked on creating a concept plan for the space," Olsen said. "They will share this information and welcome the community to respond with feedback that evening. We were asked to consider options for a green space there, a park."
Options are to include planting tress, flowers and shrubs to integrate the open corner with the municipal parking lot, where $1 million in renovations are on tap and with the rest of downtown.
Olsen said the environmental engineering firm of Wright Pierce has come up with some conceptual designs for the park and those plans will be shared with the public tonight.
The buildings at the corner were purchased for demolition in September by the Somerset Economic Development Corp.
Skowhegan Savings, the bank's Elm Street Corp. and its Skowhegan Savings Charitable Foundation, donated half of the estimated $150,000 for the development corporation to purchase and dispose of the buildings, which were all built in the late 1800s.
Matching the foundation's $75,000 grant, the other half of the money is coming from a group of local investors.
Stipulations on the purchase and sale restrict use of the land and building to public uses, including road improvement and public space.
Jim Batey, executive director of the Somerset Economic Development Corp., said he sees tonight's public forum as an opportunity to exchange ideas and to weigh in on proposed plans for the site.
"We are giving this important corner of our downtown careful consideration, not only for the green space, but also in context with the adjacent properties and how they function overall," Olsen said. "Owners of the property, Somerset Economic Development Corporation, enlisted Main Street's help to move forward with a design that will make a powerful and positive first impression for the community.
"Because it's private property, it's really up to the owners to decide its ultimate use, but what we really want to do is see if there are some good ideas out there and get some feedback about that."
Doug Harlow -- 612-2367