READFIELD — “Downtown Readfield” doesn’t roll off the tongue well.

And it hasn’t come together without fits and starts. But business activity in the village has been expanding.

Former Readfield Code Enforcement Officer Clifford Buuck, who retired in 2010 after 15 years of service, recounted a time a few years ago when he mailed out a survey to town residents.

“They wanted to have a telecommunications tower, a medical facility, a bank, a more full-service grocery store, and they wanted a cafe in town,” he said.

They got their tower in 2007, from Unicel. Their medical facility, a family practice called Maranacook Family Health Care, opened in 2010.

The town has that bank — a branch of the Savings Bank of Maine, now Bank of Maine, opened in 2005.

And citizens’ expanded grocery came after the Readfield Family Market’s reopening in 2010 after a July 2006 fire heavily damaged the building.

Readfield has all that — with a burgeoning whole foods store to boot — centered in Readfield Corner. And the growth is just about the right amount of development for the village, according to some.

Evelyn Potter, 80, has been a resident of Readfield her whole life — in fact, five generations of her family have lived on the property she has in Kents Hill.

“I haven’t seen this much activity in Readfield in a long while,” she said. “I’m just thrilled to pieces with it.”

Town Manager Stefan Pakulski credited Buuck, who retired in summer of 2010, for presiding over the targeted change.

“It simply wasn’t in my job description to be an economic developer, but there was some time to work on it,” Buuck, who still lives in Readfield, said. “I think it was just a matter of using old-fashioned salesmanship.”

The only thing missing from the survey is the café. The Cornerstone Cafe, which used to be in a massive wooden building on the north side of Main Street, is now for sale.

The cafe closed quickly earlier this year, according to residents.

“One big hole is that Cornerstone Cafe — something that someone put so much time into,” Pakulski said.

That someone is Catherine Bruce, of Mount Vernon. Bruce did not return multiple phone calls for this story.

While the opening of it seemed to take years, the closing of the café happened quickly. The building is now for sale.

“The cash flow wasn’t there to run what they set up,” said William Drake, a town resident.

But Marie’s Whole Foods may be filling the void.

Serving breakfast sandwiches and baked goods all day — along with coffee, local produce, organic grocery items and Maine-produced dairy products — co-owners Kathy Booth, of Mount Vernon, and Cricket Blouin, of Manchester, chalk their success up to high demand.

“It’s become kind of a meeting place,” Booth said. “Some people like the fact that they can get something here and not have to drive.”

Not that the business hasn’t had its struggles.

Blouin bought half of the store, which opened in 2008, from Booth in December 2010 after it briefly closed.

“She brings a lot more business savvy,” Booth said. “If it weren’t for Cricket, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Pakulski said development is coming from within the community.

“It’s driven by people who are already in the community, more or less,” he said. “All of these folks are really energized about Readfield.

“They’re trying to find niches that weren’t already there,” he added.

And the idea of a pedestrian-friendly small village will get a new boost: Safe Routes to School, a federally-funded program, has agreed to pay for a $564,000, mile-long sidewalk along Route 17, extending from the Town Office at the west end of town through the corner to the Maranacook Community middle school and high school.

Some, including Potter andthe Drakes, think the burgeoning downtown is affected detrimentally by cars speeding through downtown.

Florence Drake said the intersection of two state routes, 41 and 17, in the middle of Readfield Corner, can make walking in town dangerous.

Drivers have been tracked by Bob Bittar, the owner of The Emporium, a downtown restuarant, going through downtown far faster than the legal limit, 25 mph — often double that, Florence Drake said.

Still, Potter, though she wishes people slowed down as well, the whole village has “brightened” over the past 10 years due to development.

“When I drive through, I slow down and admire,” Potter said. “Let’s face it — Readfield’s a beautiful town. It’s a beautiful spot. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

And Booth’s appraisal of her own business seems to fit the Readfield consensus.

“It started out right,” she said. “It started out small.”

Michael Shepherd — 621-5662

[email protected]

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