Anthony Wilson, Winthrop’s newly hired town manager, walks along downtown Main Street in June. The Town Council voted this week to form a committee to explore ways to revitalize the downtown area and draw in more people and businesses. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

WINTHROP — The Town Council voted unanimously Monday to form an advisory committee to help develop and execute a plan to revitalize downtown Winthrop.

The Village Revitalization Committee is to include 10 residents from various backgrounds, according to Town Manager Anthony Wilson.

The group will be expected to make recommendations to the Town Council on economic development, housing and recreation opportunities and infrastructure improvements that could draw more people and businesses to the Kennebec County community.

“When I first visited Winthrop to interview for this job, one of the first impressions I had of the community was that Winthrop’s village had great bones, but it needs some attention,” Wilson said. “So since I have come on board and the planner has come on board, we have been researching to try to figure out what we can do and what resources we can tap into to revitalize the downtown.”

The committee is part of that effort. Members of this Village Revitalization Committee, who have yet to be appointed, will work to update the village revitalization plan, last updated more than two decades ago, in 2000.

“And additionally, whatever it is that we look to do in the village, we will want the input and the engagement of a group of stakeholders,” Wilson said, “and this committee will serve that purpose, too.”


The goal is to include stakeholders, such as business owners, downtown residents and those involved in education, culture and arts, real estate, places of worship and medical care, who will be asked to offer insight into the town’s downtown development efforts.

The Town Council is in the final stages of approving a set of rules and processes for all of Winthrop’s committees.

“It’s an almost complete process there,” Councilor Anthony Wess said. “Once those rules are adopted, we can move forward with the appointments for the (Village Revitalization Committee).”

Wess said this is the first time the town will have a set of rules for all committees, prompted by “the usual desire to get things done right and legally and (make sure) that the public is informed properly.”

The rules are expected to be adopted at the next Town Council meeting, scheduled for December. Once the rules are adopted, town officials are expected to put out a call for volunteers interested in serving on the Village Revitalization Committee.

The Appointments Committee would then recommend 10 names from the list of volunteers to be approved by the Town Council.


As part of downtown revitalization efforts, Winthrop officials are seeking federal or state funds to conduct a field assessment of the old mill on Main Street, photographed in November 2014. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

The Village Revitalization Committee’s meetings are expected to be public to encourage residents to attend and participate in the process, according to officials.

Wilson said the downtown revitalization process is expected to be long and ongoing, with no definite timeline. He also said Winthrop is expected to rely on other organizations for assistance.

The Maine Downtown Center, a resource for downtown revitalizations, for example, can assist Winthrop in drafting and reviewing grant applications. And the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, or KVCOG, an organization offering municipal assistance, can help Winthrop get federal or state funds to conduct a field assessment of the old mill on Main Street.

A meeting is planned with the Maine Department of Transportation to discuss grants and initiatives to improve sidewalks in the village.

“Like I often say: ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,'” Wilson said. “And that is how we are going to approach this.”

He said everything the Town Council does comes with the understanding it might affect the property tax rate.

“Some initiatives are going to come at almost no cost, while some, like redeveloping the mill and the sidewalk improvements, will cost more,” Wilson said. “What we will seek to do is minimize the impact on the tax rate, while, at the same time, improve the downtown in a way that people want and need.”

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