-Submitted by Jake Korb, Main Street Bath
This past Friday a group of engaged citizens from around the state gathered to learn about and discuss the concept of Smart Growth, and how Bath has exemplified the principles of Smart Growth throughout its history. Entitled Making Connections, Building Community the forum was built upon short presentations by expert panelists including:
Chris Cabot, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust
Andrew Deci, City of Bath
Mike Fear, Now You’re Cooking
Anne Ball, Healthy Maine Streets
Nancy Smith, GrowSmart Maine – Moderator
The event began with light fare and networking, as everyone enjoyed bite sized cuisine from Solo Bistro – a local mainstay, and gourmet coffee from Cafe Creme. Moderator and Grow Smart Maine Executive Director Nancy Smith welcomed the audience, providing background on the four principles of Smart Growth: Smart Design, Community Connections, Local Economy, and Healthy Communities.
Chris Cabot began the panel presentations with a look at Smart Design outside the downtown district, giving detail on the impact land conservation can have on the entire community. Following Chris, Andrew Deci gave an in depth look at Bath’s development over the past 100 years, focusing on how the city’s pre-automobile construction has helped to maintain it’s sense of community.
Mike Fear spoke to his experience as a Bath business owner for 15 years telling the story of how his business has developed and grown, while paying credit to responsible landlords, a collaborative business community, and the efforts of organizations like Main Street Bath. In the last presentation Anne Ball provided a look at the Healthy Maine Streets programs, citing statistics on how small changes in the work place can have an astounding economic impact.
Questions and conversation flowed seamlessly throughout all of the presentations, but by the end the audience was ready to dive into a more in-depth discussion. Community members and panelists alike emphasized how each of the four principles can have a dramatic impact on a community, but the greatest impact can be achieved when all four principles are applied. The audience exited the event continuing the conversation and many enjoyed the Bath 3rd Friday Art Walk.