Q. Why did you receive this grant?
A: Southern Maine was awarded this grant to make our communities more prosperous, convenient, attractive and enjoyable. Why is this important? Because these are the kinds of places people want to live and businesses want to locate. The result? A stable, economically strong region that attracts the workers Maine needs to be successful.
Q. How will the Partnership make that happen?
A. An ongoing collaborative partnership among the Partners will allow us to find and support new opportunities for the region, opportunities to meet the changes we will see in the next decades. The Partnership includes many different interests: housing, transportation, public health, the environment, education, agriculture, municipal government. Everyone is already looking at ways to do more with less. Together, the Partnership will find ways to efficiently combine funding and focus on results that benefit multiple interests.
In a practical sense, these efforts are illustrated in selected pilot sites in communities throughout Southern Maine, communities who tell us they want to plan for a strong and prosperous future. These pilot centers of opportunity will act as demonstration projects, giving other communities the opportunity to ultimately adopt or adapt whichever actions work best.
Q. How were these locations chosen?
A. We created a list of needs to help determine which communities might benefit the most from this planning exercise. The list includes practical items such as potential availability of infrastructure: sewer or good soils to support a community waste system, public water, access to public transportation or a transportation hub, communities that already have in place or are contemplating zoning for village or mixed use residential and commercial centers, and most important, the community must want to participate. Fifteen communities expressed interest in being included in the first set of pilot projects and nice were chosen. For more information on this process and the results click here.
Q. Why would a town want to host a pilot demonstration project?
A. As these towns implement their plans, they will become places that are highly competitive for new job and housing growth in Southern Maine. Sustain Southern Maine’s first group of pilot locations were chosen based on where we see the market going. We will tap into the market’s desires for safe, livable, and walkable neighborhoods, with choices of housing and transportation. We will work with municipalities to learn how to create an economically sustainable and livable community, and the lessons we learn can be used throughout the region by other communities as they choose.
Q. What does a Center of Opportunity look like?
A. They can be in every community, small and large. They can range in size from an urban neighborhood to a rural crossroads to a village center. But across these ranges there are some common characteristics:
- Mixed use, with residential, commercial, with civic or open space
- Generally no more than half a mile in diameter
- Sufficient utilities, telecommunications, and transportation Infrastructure to support residential development, the demands of 21st century businesses, and easy movement by car, walking, and bicycle within the center;
- Ability to travel by different modes of transportation, either within the community or back and forth to neighboring communities.
The Center of Opportunity locations will be the beneficiaries of investments in infrastructure so they can absorb growth and meet the needs of 21st century businesses and their workers. This will create significant tax income for their host communities. And by positioning themselves to absorb significant shares of most kinds of growth over the next 25 years, they will help protect the surrounding rural landscape and character from over-development.
Q. Can my company, organization or a community be a member of Sustain Southern Maine?
A. Yes, please let us know if you are interested and we will be in touch.