NORRIDGEWOCK — The town’s tax increment financing advisory committee continues to explore ways to utilize TIF money to have a positive impact on the community.

The town has already issued a request for proposals for the redevelopment of the old fire station on Main Street, and Town Manager Richard LaBelle said the committee has now begun to talk about “gateway signage,” which he said is something the town should have but doesn’t at this point. He said it would be good aesthetically, but would also contribute to town pride. He said there had been some discussion at the committee level about a digital sign in town that could serve as a way to advertise the town to shoppers, but he said the committee wasn’t warm to the idea. He said the sentiment of the committee was a digital sign wouldn’t fit the aesthetic of the town and would have been too flashy.

Norridgewock’s TIF district, which allows municipalities to capture revenue for various municipal development projects from the tax value of improvements, is centered around the Summit Natural Gas pipeline. The committee has mainly been focusing on the downtown area around U.S. Route 2 and Route 39 for the TIF.

LaBelle said the committee had discussed the possibility of walking trails and paths to better connect the community, but that would require access over railroad tracks, so at this point it remains uncertain. LaBelle also said there have been talks of improving the boat landing on the Kennebec River. He said there have been struggles with keeping up with maintenance on the landing, and TIF money along with possible grants would allow for an overhaul of the landing.

“The hope is to make it a more attractive driver for folks to come into the community,” he said.

The committee is eying a vacant lot in the downtown area that was donated by a resident to the town. LaBelle said converting the lot into a green space would provide an attractive feature to draw people downtown. He said it could serve as a central meeting point for people and encourage wellness with stationary exercise equipment. He said a Christmas tree in the park would promote it as a community gathering space.

“The green space is an idea we’re looking at and something we can move on soon,” LaBelle said, calling it a “low cost, high impact” prospect.

LaBelle said the town has not received much feedback since issuing the RFP for the old fire station earlier this month. Voters at this year’s Town Meeting approved allowing the Board of Selectmen to dispose of the property, and the committee has been open to a wide variety of ideas for repurposing it. The fire station has been vacant for over a year, and LaBelle and the committee hope that whatever replaces the fire station helps grow the economy in the downtown area.

Proposals for the purchase and redevelopment project are due no later than 4 p.m. July 21, after which LaBelle will begin reviewing them on July 24.

“We’re hoping as we get closer to the deadline that there’d be an increased interest in the property and what folks could do with it,” LaBelle said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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