MACHIAS, Maine — The Machias Downtown Revitalization Committee elected Washington County Manager Betsy Fitzgerald as its new chairman Friday morning and Fitzgerald wasted no time in grasping the reins to move the group forward.
Stalled by disorganization, the committee has floundered over the past several years, accomplishing little and spinning its wheels a lot. Some business owners who were original members of the group stopped attending meetings, frustrated by a lack of direction.
A visit last year by representatives of the Maine Downtown Center provided a blueprint of suggestions to help the group focus and grow. Electing officers and setting goals were two keys to that growth, the MDC agents advised.
“We’re not going to sit here and go around and around and around,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re moving forward.”
Three subcommittees were set up: Design, Economic Restructuring, and Organizational. Each committee was given tasks. The Design Committee will take an inventory of all downtown businesses and common areas, establish who the contact person is for each property and create a history of revitalization efforts.
The Organizational Committee will begin recruiting additional business owners for representation on the full committee, speak to other organizations about the group’s efforts and solicit funding through donations, fundraisers and grant opportunities.
Fitzgerald suggested the Economic Restructuring Committee formation wait until later in the year.
The Downtown Revitalization Committee receives an annual appropriation of just $3,000 from the town of Machias and members will now look at how that will be invested in the town in the coming year.
Fitzgerald also suggested that a trifold brochure be created to tout past successes of the committee and its future goals. She said the committee has had a role in the installation of new fencing on Main Street, the renovation of Bad Little Falls Park by the Beehive Collective, the planting of flowers around town and the proposed establishment of a local art collective in a former vacant downtown building.
Fitzgerald will be showing a power point presentation of possibilities for the town at the group’s next meeting.
“There has been some serious work done,” she said. “Now let’s move ahead and act on recommendations.”
The next meeting of the full committee will be at 7 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at Helen’s Restaurant in the conference room. Anyone interested in participating is invited to attend.