Four months after the Freeport Town Council adopted an ambitious plan aimed at transforming the future of the downtown, a task force of local leaders and other volunteers are working to bring the project to life.

“We’re only a few months into the implementation, and we’re already seeing a lot of great projects underway,” said Brett Richardson, executive director of the Freeport Economic Development Corporation. “We’re off to a good start.”

The 137-page Downtown Vision Plan, which reimagines Freeport as a walkable New England village, outlines specific projects and goals related to housing, economic development, arts and culture, sustainability and more.

Since the conclusion of the year-and-a-half-long drafting process in May, which included hiring Boston urban design firm Principle Group to consult on the project and gathering public feedback at several events, the task force behind the plan has worked identify potential first steps, according to Town Council Chairperson Dan Piltch.

Representatives from the groups like the Planning Board, the Complete Streets Committee, the Sustainably Advisory Board and the Freeport Economic Development Corporation have each chosen one or two priority projects from the more than 60 listed in the final plan.

“It’s not a top-down mandated list of projects,” Piltch said. “We’re saying to all these boards and projects, ‘Continue what you’re doing, but let’s coordinate all this as part of a larger vision for what we want Freeport to look like in the next 10 or 20 years.’”


He pointed to the beautification of Mallett Drive, which is currently in the planning stages, as an exciting project that residents could hear more about in the coming months.

“We want to turn that more into part of the downtown fabric,” he said of the road, which connects the Freeport’s downtown to Interstate-295. “It might have trees lining it, it might have more sidewalks, it might be a place you can have an outdoor patio with chairs and cafes. That’s a big project, but it’s already underway.”

At the task force’s monthly meeting on Aug. 25, Town Engineer Adam Bliss said a separate project to redesign the exterior of Town Hall could begin as early as late September.

“There’s a lot of work going on,” he said. “If you just give us some patience, I think exciting things are to come.”

While renovating spaces like Mallett Drive and Town Hall may seem disconnected from the town’s bottom line, Richardson said these projects are a core part of an effort to support the town’s economic development by attracting new residents to Freeport’s downtown. In order to support the mix of national retailers and local businesses the task force hopes to draw, Freeport will need to increase the number of residents living within walking distance of downtown from less than 350 to about 1,500, he said.

“When you look at a resilient neighborhoods, they have offerings that cater to local residents, whether it’s a doctor’s office, a dentist’s office, the local pharmacy, a local corner store,” he said. “It allows folks to support businesses in their neighborhood, and it gives business owners confidence that, ‘Hey, I’ve got a substantial portion of my clientele that lives right above me, or that lives within a few minutes’ walk of me, and I know I’m going to be able to capture some of their business.’ It’s a real nice feedback loop.”

New zoning regulations, including a proposed change to parking requirements that the Town Council will vote on later this month, could draw more housing developers, Richardson said.

And while the Downtown Vision task force is still in the process of assessing which of the plan’s many proposed projects are currently feasible, Piltch hopes to begin bringing suggestions to the Town Council for feedback and approval by the end of the year.

“I’m so enthused and optimistic about this vision,” Piltch said. “I think it’s a huge opportunity.”

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