The goal of the Sustain Southern Maine Centers of Opportunity pilot projects was to examine the feasibility of implementing a center-based regional development strategy in the southern Maine region. A lot is known about the patterns of development that are most likely to contribute to sustainable growth; and therefore Sustain Southern Maine did not set out to discover a new pattern of development, but a regional development strategy that resonates with local decision makers. In each pilot center, Sustain Southern Maine looked to identify the barriers, physical, financial and political, that could potentially restrict growth.
Eleven Centers of Opportunity pilot projects were conducted. To select locations Sustain Southern Maine met with municipal representatives throughout the region explaining the goals and the process for the projects. Municipalities were only obligated to “loan” their community for a learning exercise. Of the nearly 30 municipalities who attended the meetings, 15 volunteered to host a pilot project. From these 15, 11 were selected based on political readiness and replicability. Within each community, the proposed center location was chosen by the municipality with the cooperation of local landowners, businesses, developers, and neighborhood organizations.
The public outreach around the pilot project work was focused on the neighborhoods themselves. An initial meeting by personal invitation targeted key landowners, business owners and neighborhood associations to explain the process and the goals, with the caveat that the team wanted to “borrow” the neighborhood to find out how a vibrant center could be developed. The team made it clear that the community could act on the findings, or simply walk away.
The second meeting was a workshop, in which the same individuals, along with residents, joined the Sustain Southern Maine planners, architects, land use architects, and developers for a hands-on session to draw a series of rough maps visualizing how growth could occur and where it could go.
Finally, with the mapping and visualizations completed and polished, a public meeting was held in each center to show off the vision and ideas for the center.
The Pilot Project Communities:
- Freeport: Porters Landing/South Street Neighborhood
- Gray: Gray Village
- Kennebunk: West Kennebunk Village
- Kittery: Foreside
- Portland: India Street neighborhood
- Saco: Main Street
- Scarborough: Dunstan Corner Neighborhood
- South Portland: Mill Creek Neighborhood
- Standish: Steep Falls Village
- Wells: Transportation Center/Municipal Center
- Westbrook: Pride’s Corner
To find out more information about a particular pilot project click on it in the list above.