GrowSmart Maine launched its first Smart Growth Awards. “We wanted to show how smart growth is flourishing throughout Maine, as well as illustrate what smart growth looks like,” said Nancy Smith, executive director of GrowSmart Maine, according to the release from the GrowSmart Maine.

At the organization’s recent summit in Bangor, six winners were announced, a combination of building projects, policies and downtown plans that emulate smart growth principles.

The 2018 winners included a Waterville college, a suburban town council, an urban planning and public works department, a small private developer, a nonprofit housing authority and an individual planner.

• Outstanding Project: Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons in Waterville, Colby College.

Colby College’s ambitious plan to revitalize downtown Waterville began with a 102,000 square foot Downtown Commons facility, which yields newly created residential units for 200 students (and faculty), provides additional education space and public/community civic meeting areas, along with new commercial-retail spaces on the first floor of Main Street.

With widened sidewalks, added streetscape amenities, and an integrated Complete Streets design, Colby’s plan minimizes new auto traffic and focuses on diversifying transit options. This includes implementing a new jitney shuttle between the Downtown Commons, Colby College and the downtown. As 60 percent of students have no car, most will walk, bike and use the shuttle.

The other winners: Outstanding Project: 502 Deering Center, Portland, Denis Lachman and Kiya Smith; Outstanding Public Policy: 21st Century Downtown Zoning, Windham, Windham Town Council; Outstanding Smart Growth Plan: Portland Housing Authority Strategic Vision, Portland Housing Authority; Outstanding Smart Growth Plan: Franklin Street Redesign, Portland, City of Portland’s Public Works/Planning & Urban Development Departments; and Lifetime Achievement Award: Contributions to Land Use Planning in Maine, Brian Kent.

Smart growth is a common-sense concept that helps communities welcome growth while maintaining existing historic and natural assets. It encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement, according to the release.

“Smart growth has reached a pivotal moment in Maine. The combination of an aging population, growth of downtown revitalizations, changing climate, and growing energy awareness has created market forces that make the core values of smart growth attractive to a wider variety of people,” said Smith, according to the release.

MESmartGrowthAwards or growsmartmaine.org.

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