The Downtown Development Committee held its first in-person, on-site workshop on June 22. Crossroads Holdings, General Contractor team for The Downs, presented a conceptual layout of the downtown area based on the committee’s weeks of work, research, and visioning sessions.

Crossroads Holdings hired Goody Clancy, an architecture, planning, and preservation firm, to take the committee’s work to date and propose a recommendation. Some notable recommendations included a grocery store to serve the community and act as an anchor to attract other businesses. Space is also still being planned for a large sports complex and fields, to also serve as an anchor and attract visitors to the downtown area.

In addition to the anchor spaces, a recommendation was made to have a one-acre area of open green space to support year-round programming.  Future visions for this space include outdoor events, such as farmers markets. With smart and intentional design, the roads surrounding the area could be closed off, without impacting traffic flow, to expand the gathering space for larger events. It would essentially be the heart of the downtown that would connect shops and housing and be a spot for community gathering. Lastly, Goody Clancy made a recommendation to retain the Grandstand with alterations, such as removing parts of the building and adding an extended roof that could provide indoor/outdoor space that could be leveraged facing the green space.

The committee was supportive of the recommendations, and plan to continue working with Crossroads Holdings to identify what partnership is required with the Town in order to bring these recommendations to life. The committee is charged with offering financial and policy recommendations to better connect the greater downtown district with the downtown area, which includes Oak Hill and Haigis Parkway. There will need to be significant improvements to roads, trails and infrastructure in the surrounding area to make it easy to travel to and enjoy the downtown area using multiple forms of transportation, including walking.

Transportation improvements have been a current topic being discussed within the Town Council.  The Town Council recently held a workshop with the Crossroads Holding team on a Maine Department of Transportation Traffic Movement Permit (TMP) that has been in development over the past two years in collaboration with the developer, Town, and MDOT. It includes a wide range of transportation improvements that address the traffic, pedestrian and transit impacts and needs of the development project, as well as a number of longstanding transportation deficiencies that have been identified by the Town through their traffic impact fee ordinances.

Crossroads Holdings is looking for the Town to join them and the state in a financial partnership leveraging traffic impact fee reserves to fund many critical transportation projects that could not be done financially without a public/private partnership. The town’s traffic impact reserve funds have been collected from payments by prior developments and do not include any municipal tax dollars.

In order to create a downtown that is easy to get to that doesn’t put an additional strain on traffic, the projects proposed as part of the TMP workshop will enable a connected and vibrant downtown for everyone to gather. I look forward to getting the Downtown Committee’s assessment on the TMP proposal and on the criticality of this work to enable the downtown concept brought forward by Goody Clancy.

Public input is welcome and encouraged. Please join the committee meetings scheduled for every other Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., or email [email protected] Please also email me directly to share your feedback [email protected]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Scarborough Town Council.

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