MADISON — Residents voted in a “downtown plan” at town meeting recently, but what will it accomplish?

The purpose of Madison’s Downtown Comprehensive Plan is threefold: It points out deteriorating buildings and options for improving them, expands the area known as the downtown and makes the town eligible for certain downtown refurbishment grants, said Economic Development Director Joy Hikel, who wrote the plan.

The Madison Business Alliance will be able to use the plan to follow through with downtown revitalization, and the town will be able to apply for certain grants from the Maine Office of Community Development. The official downtown now includes buildings from the Madison-Anson bridge to Garden Street.

The document lists commercial, retail, worship and residential buildings and provides a brief description of each one, including its condition and whether it should be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“I think the most important thing is the addressing of the slum and blight buildings,” Hikel said recently. The list identifies buildings that are deteriorating, such as MV Block, the Bolmer building and the former junior high school, and outlines potential funding sources.

For example, the plan suggests three options for the former junior high: nominate the building for the National Register and organize a housing authority and developer to create an elderly housing complex, sell the building or demolish the structure and use the land as a park or retail space.

The document also lays out ways Madison can become a destination for visitors, as reinforced by local surveys: by promoting shopping locally; aggressively pursuing desired businesses, such as a hotel; marketing empty storefronts; developing an outdoor walking trail along the river; supporting a local farmers’ market; pursuing an alternative energy source, such as natural gas, for the downtown buildings; and investigating funding options for a family recreation center with an indoor swimming pool.

Madison has buildings with historic features, retail stores, a high traffic count, potential customers from Madison Paper Industries and no competition from any local big box store, the plan states.

But obstacles include reduced funding sources for the Community Development Block Grant program, high upkeep and energy costs in the downtown buildings and the general economy, it reads.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]


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