Boothbay Region Land Trust's Nick Ullo and Hal Moorefield floated an idea to the Joint Economic Development Committee Dec. 4 for a possible resting point and information center at Cross River Preserve.
For years, BRLT has been trying to figure out how to be more responsive to communities’ needs, Moorefield said.
In May 2014, Boothbay voters agreed to give BRLT the preserve with the stipulation that, within 15 years, the land be the home base for the trust. BRLT later determined the preserve was not suited for that, and chose instead to put its home at Oak Point Farm. BRLT proposed to the Boothbay selectmen using the preserve as a rest area and wayfinding point. The concept – a pavilion with public restrooms – was met with excitement, said Ullo, but little has happened since.
“This site – bringing it right back to this committee and what you guys are doing, talking about not just wayfinding, but fostering a positive business community – that led us into a conversation about wayfinding in general,” Ullo said. He said if BRLT was to consider it, the trust would need to know two things: that the community is in support of it and that the project will be done in conjunction with other wayfinding efforts, which would help signage be consistent.
BRLT's presentation sparked discussion about the JEDC's wayfinding efforts which propose to unify Edgecomb, Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor and Southport under consistent standards and a regional approach. Co-chair Wendy Wolf said Boothbay Harbor selectmen were enthused over the concept for the wayfinding project, but found “lukewarm” interest from Boothbay's board.
“It sure would be nice to have people beating the drum that if we're going to sell ourselves as a peninsula, that this is something that we have to work across the towns with, work hand in hand so we can highlight attractions and figure out how this is going to be done,” Wolf said.
Co-chair Andy Hamblett suggested the towns not worry yet about investing in an intricate wayfinding system; he said the towns should come to an agreement on the standards so organizations like BRLT can count on continuity across the peninsula. Wolf said Boothbay Harbor will likely continue its efforts toward wayfinding which will probably fall in line with the wayfinding consultants’ concept.
Said Ullo, “I think it's important to move forward with a regional effort essentially at the same time. If we don't, then it will be even worse than it is now because you'll have this beautiful brand in Boothbay Harbor (alone).”
JEDC moving forward
Hamblett and member Steve Malcom, tasked with a transition plan to move forward from the Camoin report, said it is clear the committee is moving away from the idea of going nonprofit.
Instead of imagining something like BREDCo, the JEDC should be standing as a hub for economic activity with regional implications, said Malcom. This would not mean that all efforts in all projects have to come from the committee or that the committee even has to be involved in every project, but it would serve as a sort of clearinghouse, continued Malcom.
“… And it just couldn't be a better segue having (BRLT) in here about wayfinding,” said Malcom.
A main focus will have to be about how to get more people involved with the JEDC, Malcom said. Hamblett added, it has to be more than just municipal governments and boards working together, but communities and community members coming together from every possible perspective.
Wolf said the JEDC needs to get an understanding from each of the towns, especially Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor, of how much interest they have, in spirit and in funding, for continuing the committee.
Said Wolf, “If we're going to continue to work as the JEDC, I would really like to know if both the select boards are really still committed to this kind of collaboration and work, and take an active role in determining how they can help us do these things. There are things in the economic development plan that each town can take a leadership role in.”