MONSON, Maine — Downtown Monson has gone from drab to fab as the business section has been spruced up with five building facades being repainted and 26 trees being planted.
Two government grants financed the beautification project, designed to make the downtown area more attractive to those traveling along the Moosehead Trail.
The town received a $150,000 community enterprise grant to paint the exteriors of five downtown storefronts that were in dire need of a makeover. The funding is part of a Community Development Block Grant from the federal government.
The state made $8,000 available as part of the Project Canopy. The town planted a mix of maple, crabapple and service berry trees in the business district. The full effect of the town’s beautification efforts is expected to be on display next year when the trees are in full bloom.
The beautification effort is expected to make motorists pay more attention to the town’s shops, restaurants and museums in the downtown section.
“I think it’s fabulous,” said resident Todd Watts. “It is really going to sparkle the town up and make it really appealing for people to take notice of what we have here in Monson.”
Assisting the town in both grant applications was the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council. The town also used a portion of the community enterprise money to purchase benches and improve the downtown’s street lighting.
The façade and tree canopy projects are designed to make motorists take notice of the town’s various shops, restaurants and museums. PCEDC Community Development Director Ken Woodbury believes the project will transform the downtown’s appearance from gray and lifeless to vibrant and alive.
“It will make motorists slow down and take notice of what Monson has to offer,” Woodbury said. “Before the makeover, it was all gray and asphalt, with nothing to grab the motorists’ attention. Now, it’s more attractive and will make them want to stop and shop.”
The community enterprise program provides grant funds to assist in innovative solutions to problems faced by small or micro-businesses. The maximum grant a community can receive is $150,000.
Project Canopy is part of Maine’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s urban and community forest program. The joint effort is designed to help communities beautify their communities and better understand the state’s and federal government’s forestry resources.