Painters work May 20, 2020, at Domino’s Pizza on Water Street in downtown Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

GARDINER — Anyone who lives or works in Gardiner, or visits the town, is invited to a visioning session that will likely contribute to the city’s new downtown master plan.

The meeting will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. on July 14, at the Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center on Water Street.

“People have a lot of things to say and [a number of] complaints,” Melissa Lindley, executive director of Gardiner Main Street, said. “This is their chance to be heard and stress what’s important to them.” Gardiner Main Street seeks to promote the downtown area by encouraging both economic and cultural activities.

The group is joining the city of Gardiner, the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments and the Gardiner Library Association to craft the plan with the help of an outside consultant. It’s being funded by a Coastal Community Grant awarded last year, and by revenue from the city’s Downtown Tax Increment Financing District. The goal is a program that will support a resilient and vibrant downtown community.

Tracey Desjardins, Gardiner’s economic development director, said that those attending the meeting will hear the results of a survey the partners conducted through the end of June, and will be guided through a process to identify and rank priorities.

She acknowledged that there are obstacles that may stand in the way of a vibrant downtown. One of them is flood insurance. Gardiner, which sits on the banks of the Kennebec River, is a coastal community, and flood insurance is one of the factors that business people and property owners consider when they make investments.

Kaleb Burbank, of Jacob’s Glass, tears out the frames of old windows to install new ones in a second-floor office on May 16, 2018, along the one-way section of Water Street in downtown Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

The most recent downtown master plan dates back more than 20 years. It was focused on a single goal — securing funds from the Community Development Block Grant program to pay for sidewalks. A decade ago, when the master plan would normally have been revisited, the lingering recession had cut municipal budgets, sidelining various projects and investments. Now that the process for the next plan is underway, the partners are hoping to get input and participation from the public.

Desjardins said the new plan should ideally include both short- and long-term goals. Once the visioning meeting is done, she explained, the schedule calls for the plan itself to be completed by October, and presented to the City Council for consideration in November.

Anyone who filled out a survey is eligible to win one of 20 $10  gift cards that will be awarded on the day of the public meeting.

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