Coastal Journal

BATH — A volunteer team of architects, engineers and other professionals from across New England have created a vision of what Bath should look like 100 years from now.

And it involves a portion of the downtown being flooded – for good.

The volunteers were part of a Design and Resiliency Team (DART), which consists of experts in city design and architecture who give free consultations to municipalities as part of an American Institute of Architects program. The city of Bath was one of two municipalites awarded a free consulation by DART after participating in a multi-state application process; the other was St. Helens, Ore.

The DART members held an informal forum seeking residents’ input on Nov. 3, then used that input to help come up with ideas that were presented at a public meeting on Nov. 5 at Winter Street Center.

The presentation showcased a variety of ways – both large and small – that the city could re-envision itself in the decades to come. Chief among the concerns was the possibility of rising seawater levels, forcing a new vision for the waterfront.


Prior to the presentation, sixth-graders from Bath Middle School presented the findings of a project that demonstrated the height water would reach if the sea rose by just a few feet. Brackett’s Market, the Kennebec Tavern and other downtown buildings would face severe flooding during storm events with just a 2-foot rise in sea level, according to their study.

But that news isn’t necessarily a death knell for the downtown, the DART members said – if steps are taken now to prepare. Creating buffer zones, increasing waterfront vegetation and creating water features that serve as both decorative elements and overflow valves all were given as ways the city could prevent a disaster.

The city could even create a boardwalk showcasing the downtown along flooded streets. Areas such as Bathport and Commercial Street could be underwater in the future if sea levels rise just a few feet, but the city could take advantage of it by capitalizing on the waterfront. The DART showed off the possibilities and how to deal with flooding issues.

The presentation, which was staggered between the various members of DART, showed a few simple ways the city could drastically improve its streets and walkways. Among the ideas was improving the “back of Front”: The spaces behind Front Street that are underutilized and relegated to parking lots.

“We’re not going to stop development; we’re going to manage development,” said Mike Davis, president of the Boston Society of Architects and principal/vice president of Bergmeyer Associates Inc., an architecture and interior design firm in Boston. “We can embrace green infrastructure to improve the landscape and midigate flooding issues.”

While the DART consulation was conducted at no cost to the city, Davis said the team members got plenty out of doing the work. He was responsible for a lot of the architectural design drawings that were created to showcase what the city could look like if the team’s suggestions are taken to heart.


“It’s great; it’s very exhilarating,” said Davis. “We don’t often get to do things that would have a public benefit.”

According to Davis, working in Bath was a pleasure thanks to the already pleasant state of the city. Normally, groups similar to DART head to cities in much more dire straights.

“But not this city,” Davis said. “It’s just fabulous. It’s a rare treat.”

Bath City Planner Andrew Deci was pleased by the large turnout at Wednesday’s presentation, which drew about 50 people who were interested in what the volunteers had to say.

“I am absolutely overwhelmed,” said Deci. “I’m glad so many people came to participate in the process.”

Now the city – and its residents – get to decide what to do with all the information they’ve been given.


“The only thing Bath shouldn’t do is do nothing,” said Wayne Feiden, director of planning and sustainability for Northhampton, Mass. “You have to plan for not only environmental resiliency, but economic resiliency as well.”

To view the DART PowerPoint presentation for Bath and learn more about the program, visit Note that due to the size of the presentation, it may take a few minutes to load.

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