Boothbay Harbor selectmen received a presentation Aug. 12 on Museum in the Streets (MITS) by planning board member Chris Swanson and Code Enforcement Officer Geoff Smith. Museum in the Streets helps towns and cities across the world feature important history in a discovery trail and educational tour with signage. Maine towns and cities participating include Wiscasset, Augusta, Bar Harbor, Belfast, Biddeford, Hallowell, Kennebunk, Searsport, Thomaston and Waterville.
“(Its) purpose is to help foster a sense of historical identity, to create another interesting activity here in town … that keeps people here longer,” said Swanson.
Swanson, Smith and Margaret Perritt have already done some of the legwork of research toward bringing Museum in the Streets to Boothbay Harbor: Contacting a MITS representative, making a comprehensive list of signage’s possible focal points, meeting with Wiscasset's committee and seeking out historical background from Boothbay Harbor Historical Society's Barbara Rumsey.
Swanson said they have also designed a draft of a walking tour which centers on the west side of the harbor as the group, with Rumsey's help, found too many points that would make a tour far too long. The group recommended a second phase solely for the east side depending on the reception the first phase gets. Swanson believes the community will love the first tour enough to push for an east side one.
“Initially, (there were) 30-something sites including both sides of the harbor. It just became a little more natural of a flow to hold it on the west side for now,” said Smith.
The likely focal points of the walking tour would include introductory panels at the Howard Street parking lot, Whale Park and Granary Way parking lot with information panels at Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library (Weymouth House), the Townsend/McKown/Commercial intersection, Boothbay House, Kaler's Trading Post, Whale Park Vista, head of the footbridge, Bridge House, Chowder House, historic homes on “The Avenue,” Opera House, harbor vista at Brady's, Bayberry House/Tupper Home, Congo Church/Perkins Home, Historical Society, Thistle Restaurant, first schoolhouse/Christian Science Society Building, Auld-Cobb House, and Townsend Avenue businesses and Horse Trough.
Selectman Ken Fitch said he likes the idea especially having lived in a Connecticut town with Museum in the Streets. However, Fitch cautioned against excluding the east side as the town also wants to see foot traffic reach Atlantic Avenue. Perritt agreed the east side needs to be in the initial planning even if the project is piecemealed in phases.
Swanson said the next steps are to get selectmen’s endorsement and to secure funding. Costs are projected at about $15,700 for a kit of 15 informational panels and two introductory panels, $4,500 for three more info panels and one intro sign, about $3,000 for installation, about $2,000 for brochures and maps and about $1,000 for work on photo reproductions, brochure holders and other marketing tools.
Concerned there were no funds in the town budget, Selectman Denise Griffin suggested the group investigate possible grants and fundraising through a non-profit organization. Swanson and Smith said it is possible considering Wiscasset's signs have been mostly sponsored by local businesses. They also agreed to come back to the board with a small, more detailed request for funds for mock-ups and an attorney to help with legal aspects concerning private properties. In turn, the board agreed to look at the possibility of finding extra funds in this year's budget.
After many inquiries on the request for proposal on the pickleball and basketball court landscaping, only one company, Rosengren Landscaping from Freeport, responded with a $36,313 bid, said Acting Town Manager Julia Latter. The town budgeted $20,000 and has already spent $5,000, said Latter. “So, we have $15,000 at this point left in the account.”
Latter and Smith said the board could reject the bid, but it would have to draw up a new plan entirely. Board members rejected the bid unanimously and agreed that exploring options with the remaining funds would be the best course.
The board voted unanimously to hire Jeffery Lowell as harbor master contingent on his pre-employment physical and drug test.
Latter said taxpayers have their tax bills. The first installment is due Sept. 5; the second one, March 5. A public presentation of the town audit report is set for Monday, Sept. 9.
Cafe and bakery Farm 23, at 102 Ocean Point Road, received a victualer's license from the board in a unanimous vote.
David William Iverson Revocable Trust, at 131 Appalachee Road, had its wharf and weir application approved for a 4’x4’ platform, 4’x16’ flight of stairs, 45’x6’ pile supported pier, 38’x3’ seasonal runway and 10’x20’ float parallel to the shore.
The board unanimously accepted a Broadband Committee application from resident Ken Rayle.