Bar Harbor park named top 10 public space by national organization

A couple sits on a bench in the Bar Harbor Village Green on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. The green recently was named by American Planning Association as one of the top 10 public spaces in the country for 2012.
A couple sits on a bench in the Bar Harbor Village Green on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. The green recently was named by American Planning Association as one of the top 10 public spaces in the country for 2012. Buy Photo
Posted Oct. 09, 2012, at 3 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The town’s Village Green has been named one of the top 10 public spaces in the country for 2012 by a private planning organization.

The green, which features paths, benches and a bandstand and is ringed by shops, restaurants, a church and the local fire station, was selected for the honor by the American Planning Association, according to a prepared statement released by the group last week.

APA said the green is a “downtown anchor” that has a “timeless design, community amenities and year-round events.”

The organization began compiling its annual list in 2007 and since then has named 60 neighborhoods, 60 streets and 50 public spaces to its “Great Places” list. The Bar Harbor park is the only location in Maine to make the list in 2012.

“The long standing heart of Bar Harbor, [the] Village Green is more than just open lawns, sidewalks with benches and a bandstand — it is the nucleus of a thriving downtown and a testament to the ability of well-planned parks to renew rejuvenate and sustain a community,” Paul Farmer, APA’s chief executive officer, said in the statement.

Ruth Eveland, chairman of the town’s elected council, said in the same statement that the green attracts residents and visitors to the heart of the town.

“It can be a place for peaceful reflection, lifting our spirits with its beauty at every season, and then is full of people gathered for a celebration,” Eveland said. “The Village Green is truly a living, breathing space in our town.”

Bar Harbor first was settled by European colonists in 1763, according to the statement. By 1880, it had more than 30 hotels that in the summer attracted aristocratic families from the Northeast. When the Grand Central Hotel, which stood on the corner of Main and Mount Desert streets, was razed in 1899, the town purchased the property. Over the following decade, the Village Improvement Association added a veterans’ memorial, a cast iron clock and a tiered 17th-century Italian fountain to the 1.5-acre park, all of which are still there.

Information about APA and the Great Places program can be found online at www.planning.org. Additional information about the green and the award can be found on Bar Harbor’s website, www.barharbormaine.gov.

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