June 23, 2018
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Responders to Camden survey say town needs to preserve quality of life

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

CAMDEN, Maine — Preservation of the quality of life in town is the greatest hope expressed by townspeople who responded to a survey that will be used to develop a downtown master plan.

The number of responses was very good, said Camden Development Director Brian Hodges, noting 332 people filled out and returned the survey.

One question asked of townspeople was what they hoped would be achieved by the master plan. There were 219 people who said that preserving the quality of life in town was very important with another 66 people saying that was important. Seventeen people said it was somewhat important and seven said it was not important.

Creation of more jobs downtown received the second most votes. One hundred sixty-two people said job creation was very important, 98 said it was important, 41 said it was somewhat important and eight said it was not important.

The next most important item for the people who responded was to have more “regular” shops downtown, with 143 people who said it was very important, 91 important, 47 somewhat important, and 28 not important.

A majority of people also said a movie theater would be an important goal for the town.

The type of retail businesses sought by residents were varied and numerous. They included a kitchen store, hardware store, a restaurant that serves organic or locally grown food, a bakery and ethnic restaurants.

Making the downtown more pedestrian-friendly was the next most important goal, with getting more local people involved in planning decisions and creating a river/harbor walk next on the list.

The consultants hired by the town to work on the master plan, along with town advisory panels and municipal government officials will use the results and comments from a pair of public forums to come up with a recommended master plan, Hodges said. The recommended package is likely to be presented formally to the Camden Select Board at its April 17 meeting.

Hodges said he expects the board then will hold a public hearing before it is voted on by the board.

Once that it is done, he said he and the town officials will work to implement the recommendations.

Most residents also stated that Camden’s downtown had enough parking. There were 65 people who said there was plenty of parking if you knew where to look, 165 said there was enough except maybe in the middle of the summer, and 55 people said there was not enough parking.

Townspeople were split on the need for a parking garage. There were 122 people who said maybe it would be helpful to have a parking garage, 103 said it would not be helpful and 83 said it would be helpful.

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