HOWLAND, Maine — Swings. Vegetable gardens. Small fountains. People who want to see amenities in the proposed public recreation area at the former Howland tannery site should bring ideas to a meeting next week, Town Manager Tracey Hutton said Thursday.
The Planning Board, Board of Selectmen, Community Enterprise Committee and advisors on the multimillion-dollar effort to transform the site into a centerpiece for town economic and social life will meet at the Town Office at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10 to collect ideas from residents, Hutton said.
She called it “the scoping meeting.”
The meeting’s goal, Hutton said, is to allow residents to help project engineers and architects “devise a good strategy for that site in terms of trails and amenities for what will work on that site and still meet the [economic development] goals of the community.”
“Once we get the input from residents, we will put together a plan and get a contractor out there to implement what [residents] want out there,” Hutton added, “so by the fall, we hope to have a site that reflects what everybody wants.”
Formerly the site of the town’s largest employer, the tannery building complex was razed this past summer after decades of effort at redevelopment. Only part of one small building remains to be cleared this spring. Town leaders have called the large site near the town’s center the key to revitalizing the small town’s economy.
The tannery site is part of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust’s plan to build a fish bypass, seed some tannery land and dig a channel for the bypass in a project designed to open nearly 1,000 miles of habitat to Atlantic salmon, alewives and other sea-run fish now blocked from migrating upriver.
As part of the Howland project, town officials hope to develop once-contaminated land not occupied by the bypass. A $150,000 community enterprise grant will pay for the landscaping of that land, which will be handled by Copeland Associates of Bar Harbor and project engineer CES Inc.