OAKLAND — Officials have tried to boost civic pride and town appearance in Oakland over the past year and are now turning their attention to revitalizing its downtown core.

The town council last week authorized Town Manager Gary Bowman to organize the Oakland Downtown Betterment Committee.

In a Nov. 4 letter to downtown business owners and managers, Bowman said the town has seen a resurgence in enthusiasm for Oakland in the year. He pointed to the work of volunteers who plant and take care of flowers on traffic islands downtown and the successful launch of OakFest, an annual summer festival, in June.

“My feeling is we need to take this process a step further,” Bowman said in the letter.

The committee will be responsible for brainstorming ideas to help grow downtown Oakland and bring new faces and investment into town.

“This may involve beautification and appearance projects, ideas for attracting new and unique businesses to town and finding ways to attract people into Oakland,” Bowman wrote in the letter.

“If this committee is successful, we could change the face of our town and become a large contributor with bringing additional dollars into our community,” he wrote.

Since he sent the letter out, at least eight business owners have told him they are interested in joining the committee, Bowman said in an interview this week. An organizational meeting for the committee will be held in February to elect officers and set up a meeting calendar.

Downtown Oakland is sometimes overlooked by drivers coming through town. This summer, Oakland Pharmacy moved from the Main Street storefront it had for a decade to a larger location with more parking on Kennedy Memorial Drive. At the time, owner Shane Savage said the move was hard, but he had to relocate to where the traffic was moving.

Jan Burns, who owns the Fossett Building on Main Street, said most of her tenants, including Spectrum Management and Couture Styles, intend to join the committee. Oakland’s downtown holds lots of opportunity, but it is overshadowed by amenities in nearby Waterville, Burns said.

“We have a lot of waterfront and a lot of tourists. Oakland should offer enough so they don’t drive by on their way to Waterville,” Burns said.

Burns bought the Fossett Building from a couple she knew nine years ago and has made a lot of investments, including rebuilding the entire third floor.

Oakland wasn’t a place she’d want to come to years ago, but recently people have been taking better care of the town.

She thinks bringing a variety of businesses, like new retail stores or a restaurant, onto Main and Church streets could attract more visitors.

“The heart is there,” Burns said.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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